Bar to Bar Through Beantown
“The high ceilings made the space feel airy although we were still fairly on top of the patrons next to us.”
Neighborhood: North End
Address: 107 Salem Street
Date of Visit: Friday, March 30, 2012
Bartender Name: Yaffe
Bacco’s first floor embodies what one would expect in an older North End bar, brick walls, tight spaces, and bathrooms and bar equipment tucked in areas one might not normally expect in other Boston neighborhoods. While waiting to be seated for our restaurant week dinner Valerie got almost claustrophobic (not good) as the there is no space in the foyer to stand and everyone kept trying to use the single bathroom located by the entrance, fortunately, the wait was only about 10 minutes and we were shuffled upstairs to a bit larger room. The high ceilings made the space feel airy although we were still fairly on top of the patrons next to us. Serving okay food fairly quickly was a change from our other North End experiences which often become hours of food and fun conversation, but we attribute the quickness to restaurant week. It was extremely difficult to even hear each other across our small table as the acoustics (and large group of loud women in the middle of the room) made it very noisy in the space – this definitely isn’t a romantic dinner spot on a weekend night.
The downstairs bar was a vast improvement from our experience upstairs. The bar staff was friendly and it seems as if the other patrons at the bar were a good blend of regulars and tourists. The bar runs the length of the room, but walking space is tight as there are tables set up down there too. There are a few TVs, and the uplighting on top of the bar gives it a more “nightlife” feel.
Valerie’s Drink of Choice: Girl Scout Cookie Martini
Ingredients: Cruzan Coconut Rum, Butterscotch Coconut Liqueur, Caramel and Coconut Drizzle
Review: Given that it is the Girl Scout’s 100th Anniversary, and that I myself am (was?) a Girl Scout, I had to order this drink. In reading the ingredients, I expected this drink to taste like my favorite Girl Scout cookie, which when I sold them was called the Caramel Delight, but most people know them as Samoas. Unfortunately, this wasn’t really the case. Watching the drink be made was fun (sorry it was a process for the bartender!) – first chocolate was put on the glass which was then filled with the shaken rum and coconut liqueur, and then the drink was topped with liquid caramel and coconut flakes. While the last part may have looked great (I did get asked by several other bar patrons what I had ordered), the amount and size of the coconut flakes made it so I literally had to chew my cocktail. In fact, the amount of coconut left in the glass at the end is ridiculous (I took a photo, but it was way to gross to post). Luckily, I was just with Eric and not trying to impress anyone, because drinking this cocktail is not sexy. The flavor in general reminded me of Baileys, and in fact, I think I would have just rather had Bailey’s on the rocks. Great idea, poor execution.
Eric’s Drink of Choice: Americano
Ingredients: Campari, Sweet Vermouth, Muddled Lemon, Sugar and Soda
Review: Bitter bitter bitter bitter bitter. Which is how it should be! Many readers know that I was on a bitters kick for most of last Fall going into the Winter, so when I saw the Americano on the menu I figured I’d give it a shot. I think a lot of people would take a sip of this and pucker, only to put it down and ask for something else, but you really have to be prepared for the bitter punch in the mouth that the Americano is going to give. I think the bartenders could have given a bit more soda to ease the bitter flavor just a bit, but overall this was a pretty good rendition of the cocktail!
Surprisingly, I could see this being pretty refreshing as an alternative to a sangria or the like during the warmer months, and am anxious to play around with Campari more in my homemade drinks. I’m thinking a dash of maple bitters, perhaps some sweet vermouth, or a flavored seltzer instead of soda (cherry?) might be unique ways to mess around with the Americano and experiment with the cocktail on my less bitter-inclined friends.
Wine Prices: Seven whites and nine reds are listed by the glass for $7 to $12 each. The full wine list was not on the table, but it is on their website. They also have red and white sangrias made to order.
Beer Prices: Sixteen beers are available from $4.50 to $6 each.
Other: On their main cocktail menu, there are twenty drink options, including a Key Lime Pie Martini, Voo-Doo Rum Punch, a Manhattan and a Mandarin Blossom. These drinks range from $10 to $12 each. There is also a dessert cocktail menu (where the Girl Scout Cookie Martini was located) that contains six martinis all for $10 each, including an Almond Joy Martini, Mint Chip Martini and a White Chocolate Raspberry Martini.