For one glorious year, the Peruvian-Japanese restaurant RUKA (part of the Coje Management Group, which includes the stellar Yvonne’s and Lolita Cocina) was our perfect restaurant/bar. The bar team was headed by Will Thompson and had a Murderer’s Row of bartenders: Joaquin Meza (the Tequila and Mezcal guru), Alex, Rob, Shelton, Kim and Sebastian. They were all fun, ambitious, and razor sharp with the bartender’s choices. RUKA soon opened for lunch, so it was easy to run in and almost have the place to yourself. The whiskey and rum selection (especially the Japanese whisky) was brilliantly chosen (we learned of some of our favorites like Imperial scotch and Caroni rum, there). The food was original and expensive but worth it. It was also located right on our previous office’s block in Downtown Crossing, so we were there almost every week.
Then literally in a month or two it all vanished. Will Thompson left, with the rest of the team also soon to depart. The low point came one night when we were out with a bunch of friends and stopped in – we already knew better than to order off-menu so we opted for the MOST Peruvian drink on the menu, the Pisco Sour, a drink that is almost impossible to mess up and is on my “Top 5 Cocktail that Nearly Everyone Likes” list.
And it was so indefinably bad I don’t think I would have identified it as a Pisco Sour if I hadn’t ordered it. Pisco is a South American brandy (Peru and Chile have an ongoing feud as to whose Pisco is the real deal – I prefer Peruvian by a hair) and the Pisco Sour is simple pisco, lime, simple and egg white topped with Angostura bitters. It pretty much follows the Daiquiri formula:
2 oz Pisco Barsol Quebranta
1 oz Fresh lime juice
.5 oz Simple syrup
0.5 oz Fresh egg white
So when we were invited to dinner to a small Peruvian restaurant in East Boston (before heading off the Luzia, the latest Cirque du Soleil show which was just 6 minutes away at the Suffolk Downs area), I was wondering if redemption was on the horizon.
Now, any time you see a menu with pictures on it, you can almost GUARANTEE that the drinks are going to be too sweet.
Lorri wisely requested her Pisco Sour with half the sweetness and I piggybacked off of her order.
Rincon’s Pisco was still a touch too sweet, even at half sweetness and had an unexpected slushie mouthfeel, almost like a blended margarita (OK, apparently this is a thing) but otherwise, it was a completely successful drink, especially on a warm evening.
I had to try the Chilcano, a drink I’d never had before. The ginger ale made me immediately suspicious (has there EVER really been a good ginger ale cocktail?), but you never know what unknown ethnic cocktail can surprise you.
Ultimately, I didn’t care for the Chilcano (at least as prepared here) – again, it would be fine for a party on a hot day but I didn’t find any reason to go for something this sweet where the ginger ale obliterates everything that makes pisco special. I’d rather just go for a Tom Collins (or even a highball, which I’ve never loved).
Rincon is definitely not a drinks-focused place, so while it’s great that there’s a good drink there, the food is why people were lined up to get into the place. No surprises here – the seafood is super fresh, the ceviche and tiraditos were killer and the portions are gargantuan. I highly recommend.
Bonus Review: Luzia was terrific! We’ve been to about 20 or so Cirques and both Lorri and I would put Luzia in the top 5. Here’s a small sample of the mind boggling feats we saw at the show: