My thanks to the operator of the 43 bus, for driving right on by on night six of Negroni Week. It was supposed to be a trip to Wink and Nod, the South End's (relatively) new '20s-inspired bar, but sometimes plans change.
Rather than wait around for the next bus, I walked about a hundred steps from Park Street to local standby Barracuda. I ordered a beer.
Barracuda is the sort of place that feels like it's always been there, exactly as it is, even though you can tell that isn't true. It's a second-floor bar, which is a quirk on its own, and features like the Jack Daniels Honey dispenser and the cheery blue walls remind you that this is no old ward boss haunt. It's only been around for a few years.
The proprietor is a fellow named Luka, who spends a lot of time behind the bar personally. He, along with the people he hires, is unusually good at remembering names, faces, and details from visit to visit. Barracuda, unsurprisingly, has a lot of regulars.
It also has a little curiosity of Massachusetts law, namely a cordials license. I'd always assumed it was an old, outdated regulation, but apparently it only turns twenty this year. The good people at DrinkBoston tell me that it started with North End restaurants that wanted to serve digestifs, and then found wider application around the city.
Bars with this permit can serve liqueurs and cordials along with beer and wine, although the definition of a liqueur is generally left up to the people who make it. This is my long-winded way of telling you that they have Diep9 Genever on the menu at Barracuda.
Genever (juh NEE ver) is a spirit similar to gin, in many respects the parent of gin, and it remains very popular in Holland and Belgium. It was also very popular in the United States, back before the twentieth century came along. Many old cocktail recipes call specifically for "Hollands gin," by which they mean genever.
Genever is less piney and more malty than gin. Some varieties are aged; others are practically vodka. Serious Eats has a good run-down. In any event, the premise of a grain distillate flavored with juniper and spices is something both have in common.
And so, when it occurred to me that Barracuda had both sweet vermouth and Campari, and I asked Kaitlyn to make me her best approximation of a Negroni within the constraints of a cordials license, I ended up with a Genever Negroni.
The result? Not bad. Surprisingly Negronilike. But again, the base spirits are very similar - particularly given that the genever in question was jonge genever, which tilts more to the vodka than to the Scotch end of the genver spectrum. (Genever is often described as a cross between Scotch and gin. I know, it sounded weird to me, too.)
Barracuda was a nonparticipant in Negroni Week - I wouldn't be surprised if I was the first guy who ever asked them for one - but Wink and Nod's Campari drinks supported Community Boating, the oldest public sailing center in the country. If you like seeing sailboats on the Charles, and don't think that should be limited to people with the money to buy one, you like Community Boating, and you can give them a hand here.
Epilogue: I've since been to Wink and Nod, and have some very complimentary things to say. I expect I'll say them later. Perhaps on this very blog.