Amanda Boucher, an American who was well-known behind the bar at Candelaria, has opened up her own spot near the Cirque d’Hiver. Her cocktails are always intriguing and playful, but they’re not innovative just for the sake of being different, which is to say… they work. The Bloody Céleri, for example, is a fresh take on the savory classic Bloody Mary made with celery and a lingering spicy kick. The Reine Rouge with sherry, honey, orange, and rum, is another that’s royally good. Above all, the beverages here are balanced. Personal, too. On a recent visit, I enjoyed the clay mug that Herbaceous, an icy tequila, lillet, celery and suze cocktail, was served in and was told by the server that it was handcrafted by the bartender’s mother. The surprisingly long bar has several different rooms and ends up being quite spacious so that unlike Boucher’s former employer around the corner, it’s easy to get in (for now) and seats can reliably be found. You can count on listening to a great playlist or DJ, but also to being able to hear whoever you’re chatting with.
In an attempt to bring something different to the cocktail scene, Boucher and chef Lina Caschetto are playing around with cocktail and food pairings. It’s an ambitious idea that occasionally succeeds. It’s nice to see someone attempting something more creative than a jar of rillettes, like carrot or cauliflower pierogies(!), but the small plates are still primarily a pricey afterthought.