“The Regulars” is a series of posts on bars that Lorri & I have been to often enough to trust with our lives … errrr … make that OUR LIVERS.
Our second destination was only a few stairs up from our first stop at Drink. The Gold Bar is the tiny 6 seat bar at the entrance of Menton, the swankiest member of Barbara Lynch’s empire.
When my business partner once asked me where to take a date to really impress I immediately said Menton. I warned him it could get pricey (it was when Lorri and I went) but when he told me what it ended up costing I nearly fell over (apparently they went for the biggest tasting menu with full wine pairings but even then they must have opted for the after dinner bath in Dom Perignon and Pappy Van Winkle 25). Well, they’re still together so THAT was worth every penny, but we do have an even nuttier “took a date to Menton” story that we can’t share publicly!
Gold Bar is on-par swanky with Menton (John Gertsen swooped back into Boston for a spell for its design, calling a “glam bar”), featuring rare Giallo Siena Italian marble and immaculately kept bartender station. Any time you go to its building-mates Drink, Menton or Sportello (or perhaps even the nearby Lolita Cocina, Pastorale, Row 34 or Committee) it’s worth popping by to see if you can score one of the few seats at the bar (there are a few lounge-y couches and low tops but it’s not the same experience) because there’s really no other place like it in Boston. It tends to be either completely empty or hopelessly packed.
My original plan was to hit Drink right at 4 PM, drink with ruthless efficiency, then run upstairs and blast obnoxiously through Menton’s doors right at their 5 pm openings. Traffic, parking, the excellence of Drink, and the actual fun of Danna & Tom’s company shredded that plan … but the mixology gods (and lack of other Type A drinker-planners like me) were smiling on us and we had the bar to ourselves.
Lorri and I like to grab seats around the corner of a bar if possible – people think we’re kinda weird but after 10 years of marriage we actually still like to look at and talk to each other (almost as much as we dislike dislocating our necks for 5-7 straight hours to semi-face each other). Therefore, it was great to have a perfect four person corner so that the four of us could have a highly interactive four way conversation for a change.
That of course did NOT happen because Tom and I dove into an intense discussion of home darkrooms and copper print-making (which apparently involves wax and acid and other processes that come in handy if you ever want a career as a fixer for the mob) and how it’s important for human civilization to continue to make physical objects with our bare hands before we devolve into spending all day in front of a computer working in completely digital mediums like blogging, shopping for cocktail paraphernalia, or running a software company.
I have no clue what the ladies were discussing during this time but I’m fairly certain that Tom & I won the “Semi-Drunken Semi-Philosophical Discussion of the Night Award”.
Oh yeah, there were drinks, too.
Check out this goddam next-level menu! It reads like a speakeasy, a greenhouse and a winery all dove into a Vitamix and spewed out cocktails that humankind had never seen before:
Our drinks were delivered with real grace and flair by our bartender Max. Max is exactly the right kind of bartender for a Menton bar – very poised and classy but totally willing to plug into our silly vibe when appropriate or switch into let’s-mixology-geek-out-together mode when we asked questions.
Note: Also saw OXO STEEL ANGLED JIGGERS at this bar! I’m such a trendsetter.
Lorri’s “Bemire” (with the burnt Thyme garnish – I kept looking around to see if Garnish Hatin’ Gertsen would swoop in with a Dyson and suck that thing away) was a serendipitous pick because the secret unlisted ingredient was of course … SFUMATO! (see previous post for how Danna called Sfumato the up and coming amaro just minutes earlier – see what happens when you drink with the right people?). It ended up being Danna’s favorite drink of the night – the Rye, Chartreuse and the gentle smoky rhubarb accents in the Sfumato made for a strikingly original drink.
IIRC, Tom continued his perfect streak of being the Ideal Cocktail Wingman (it’s SO great to have a wingman who orders the drink you WERE gonna get so you can get something else but still get a gulp of your first choice) by getting the Florence Sour, consisting of cognac, honey, lemon and an amaro called Santa Maria al Monte (drinking this counts as 5 Hail Marys, I’m sure). This is a drink that I’m totally gonna steal for one of my Company Cocktail Fridays (though with probably a less sacred amaro).
Danna’s La Fleur (again, I’m 80% sure that I got these drinks right but there is a 20% chance I’m doing a total POOMA** here.
** POOMA = Pulled Out Of My Ass) was a Pisco Sour variation that had jasmine in it. How does one get jasmine in a cocktail? Is it like Orange Flower water, but with jasmine petals? I mean, even the excellent Jasmine cocktail doesn’t have jasmine it it (it was named after Paul Harrington’s friend Matt Jasmin, who must not have been that good a friend because Harrington totally spelled his friends last name wrong). At any rate, it was lovely and gorgeously executed.
My cocktail was DEFINITELY the “Serre De La Madone” because I wanted to try my first Armagnac cocktail ever. Armagnac is basically “cognac if cognac were a boxer instead of a ballerina” ( a description that will surely get me a severe beating from our cognac buddy Chiu when he reads this), and this particular armagnac was unaged and something of a rare find of Barbara Lynch’s from a journey to France.
At any rate, I loved the Serre more than I wished I did because the combo of peach (a real weakness of mine), green chartreuse and “this armagnac I’ll never find” hit me in all the right places : stone fruit nectar, assertive yet refined base liquor, and sweet magic herbalness, an experience I probably won’t have again.
We could have (and maybe SHOULD HAVE) spent the rest of our night there, but there were more places calling our names. Still, the overall consensus was that of the five places we hit this night, the Gold Bar was our favorite for the overall experience (and we didn’t even order the $25 Relatively Guilt Free Foie Gras Hot Dog! **).
** Relatively Guilt Free because the last time we ate at Barbara Lynch’s No. Park the waiter told us her places only get foie gras from non-force fed birds. I know, I’m still the World’s Worst Vegetarian.
So next time you’re in the area, take a chance and pop into the Gold Bar and see if you can snag a seat. For all of its opulence, it’s still basically a friendly private bar that flies under the radar of its larger louder peers and unfailingly knocks out killer creations.
Next Stop : The Unintended Oak and Rowan