Risqué Business? Cuchara’s New Cocktail Promotion References A Sexy Mexican Tradition

Warning: there’s some NSFW tableware ahead. Yes, really.

Beginning June 20 and ending July 27, there’s a unique—some might say controversial—motive to drink at Cuchara, the colorful enclave at 214 Fairview in Montrose that’s popular for its authentic Mexican cuisine. Every time a woman buys herself a drink or entices someone else to purchase one for her she will receive a wooden ficha, or token, to redeem at an end of month “mega” party on July 28. It’s called “verano de ficheras.” (Verano means “summer” in Spanish.)

Here’s Cuchara’s description of the promotion:

What is a fichera?
A provocative, sexy lady that collects “fichas” (tokens) provided by the bar every time she entices a customer to buy her a drink.

Ladies, this summer is ours! For every margarita you buy or someone else buys for you, we will give you a “ficha”, so pull out your sexiest outfits and drink! Collect your fichas by drinking from June 20 to July 27 and trade them at our Ficheras party on July 28, 2017.

Expect Ficheras movies, risky and sexy art displays by Cecilia Beaven, adult décor and lots of provocative drinks. Guys, buy ladies a drink because that’s what any gentleman would do!

In other words, the purchase of each house cocktail or margarita of the day earns the receiving (and perhaps provocatively dressed) customer one ficha and there is no time restriction: brunch, lunch, happy hour and regular hours afford equal opportunities for accrual. (Note that, during the promotion, happy hour will run from 4 to 6 p.m. instead of the usual 5 to 8 p.m. Beer and shots are not included in the items eligible for tokens. Look for a postcard on each table, held up by a small, half-naked figurine of a woman no less, explaining the rules in full.

Dolls such as these will hold a postcard describing the promotion rules. Photo by Ellie Sharp

Cuchara owner Ana Beaven is still working on the nominal value per token but says Beaven plans to offer “double days,” so even if people don’t start collecting until towards the end, they will still have time to earn swag at the party. A total of 5,000 fichas will be up for grabs, and customers will be responsible for keeping their personal stash secure until the end.

The concept draws a potentially precarious line between customary “ladies nights” and solicitation, but according to Ana Beaven it’s “just a fun game” and a way to liven up the summer. Customers are encouraged to dress the part—“the sultrier the better”—while one wall of the bar area will be dedicated to sexy art work and animations created by Ana’s sister Cecilia along with clips fischera films, which are a genre of risqué soap opera-style films that were particularly popular in the ’70s and ’80s in Mexico. Actresses from the films reached icon status and Beaven hopes to welcome an original fichera actress on site at some point during the festivities. In addition, drag queens, showgirls and other guests will grace assorted pop-up events to offer multiple forms of interaction at various times of day throughout the month.

This is the first year that Beaven is hosting verano de ficheras, which reflect a cultural tradition still present in some Mexican bars. Though some compare ficheras to prostitutes, Beaven says this is inaccurate, explaining the process as a scantily clad woman who encourages men to purchase her drinks, albeit at a higher price, to increase sales for the bar. While visiting with the men she will often engage in conversation and dancing. Despite arguments to the contrary, says Beaven, “They just drink with you. You can dance with them, and they might allow you a caress here or there. They just make the bars sell more drinks so they get a commission. It’s a genre, it exists. It’s a profession. There’s nothing sexist about it.”

Cuchara will feature adult-themed artwork from Cecilia Beaven in addition to movie clips and animations throughout the promotion. Photo by Sofia van der Dys

The fichera earns a token for every drink purchased that she exchanges for cash at the end of the night. “They really don’t drink,” says Beaven explaining that even though they receive drink after drink they don’t get drunk. She says that sometimes when a woman is at a bar and not drinking very much people may joke with her by asking, “Are you a fichera? What’s wrong with you? Drink!”

In Beaven’s variation, the tokens earned by women won’t equate to cash per se, but can be traded for goodies like cocktails, food, gift cards and Cuchara market items at the party in July. There is no such thing as a fichero—or male counterpart to a fichera— which means men are, in theory, out of luck for this celebration when considering the monetary commitment. A few male Cuchara regulars have already joked about showing up in wigs and dresses, and that’s okay with Beaven, who plans to oblige the whims of her guests as long as they follow the format. “The tradition is you buy for someone you visually like because it’s a girl but if customers want to buy a drink for someone who at least appears as a woman I have no problem with that,” she says particularly in a nod towards Pride Week, which overlaps with part of the event. “If they [guys] want to participate [they can] get a wig, get a dress and come and drink with the girls.”

Texas that has a law that relates to solicitation of drinks of which some restaurants and bars have run afoul. In those cases though, it was employees (sometimes posing as patrons) asking customers to buy them drinks at a higher price than normal. They would then get a kickback from the bar. At Cuchara, everyone will pay the same price and only customers will purchase the drinks for other customers.

Beaven says her intentions are simply to offer a fun experience for her guests and says feedback so far has been very positive. Keep an eye on the restaurant’s social media for news on special days, pop-up events and other content about the promotion.

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