Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The art of cocktail making - Union Square

A recent trend has been blossoming in Boston - the art of the cocktail.  More and more now, restaurants have put in place bar programs that either hold up to, compliment or, in some cases, outshine the food menu.  One of my favorite examples, is JM Curley, in Downtown Boston.  Bar manager Kevin, is like a liquid guru and has come up with a beautiful list of cocktails that my friends and I frequent when we need a good post-performance libation... I have yet to find a better Dark and Stormy:)
With this trend growing, there are many bars/restaurants that have opened with a purpose dedicated to craft cocktails.  Of course, Barbara Lynch's Drink located in the Fort Point has been around for a while now and is known for its crafty mixologists that can whip up something from the Prohibition era or something entirely new and unique, Todd Maul has been mixing up a storm at Clio for years now as well.  More recently, The Hawthorne Bar opened its doors in the Kenmore area and is a phenomenal place to sit and enjoy an excellent beverage.
Just the other night, I got myself to the newest watering hole, Backbar, an incognito bar down Sanborn street in Union Square.

 Located right beside Journeyman, Backbar is not the kind of place you stumble upon...you need to know where to go and yes, this is the front door.  Look ominous? Wait until you open it to find yourself in a long, sketchy hall way with unmarked silver doors.  

 Straight ahead, a door with a tiny sign 'BackBar' will lead you into a setting that befits New York's  underground scene.  The walls are decked with pieces from local artists, furniture is sparse and simple, the feel is a cross between industrial and rustic - I immediately felt at home:)
 We snagged two great seats at the bar, which is what I would recommend - you want to see these guys at work. My friend and I ordered two drinks to start, I got their 'drink of the day': Gin, house-made Ginger beer, a splash of orange juice and a bit of Sambucca-like liqueur.  My friend got their 'Union Mule' from their menu: Beefeater Gin, apple brandy, St. Germaine, citrus, ginger and spice.
Although this is a drink place, the food menu intrigues as well, we settled for some spiced caramel popcorn with bacon(duh!).  It was a delicious pairing for our drinks.
As per my most recent quest, I could not leave Backbar without sizing their Dark and Stormy up against JM Curley's. 
Verdict: JM Curley's is still my favorite for its great kick and spice with its sugary rim...however, Backbar's house-made ginger beer adds complexity and was certainly enjoyable, taking a strong second:)
Union Square is not on my usual list of destinations, but with the team behind Backbar stirring up solid drinks, I may just have to come up with a recurring visit:)

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