What do you think when you hear the term “theme bar?” Probably cheesy, schticky, over-the-top monstrosities like Senor Frog’s, with servers clad in massive, goofy sombreros, and day glow-colored, vodka and Bacardi-soused cocktails.
So granted, it’s hard not to be wary of BlackTail’s highly specific POV — hearkening back to Prohibition era Cuba, when bartending talent and eager imbibers boarded new fangled flying boats, abandoning bone dry America for easy, carefree Havana. But while staff is indeed clad in their own form of costume (light weight linen button downs and jaunty fedoras), the new Battery bar is anything but a theme park; having been opened by the duo behind Dead Rabbit and counted amongst the mixology world’s most formidable talent.
Located in the waterfront-adjacent Pier A Harbor House, the 120-seat space is bedecked with potted palms and El Floridita-inspired stools (Earnest Hemingway’s favorite haunt), and frequently soundtracked by the upbeat thrum of live Cuban jazz. But it’s all mere backdrop for the monumental bar menu — all 88 leather-bound pages of it — divided into cocktails, highballs, old-fashioneds, punches and sours, with eight original drinks amassed under each.
While rum is, indeed, at the forefront, Daiquiris and Mojitos are hardly spiked with Bacardi. Instead, the team has assembled a proprietary blend of Caña Brava, Barbancourt and Banks 5 Island, to most accurately mimic the Cuban rums of old. And those two classics are just the tip of the iceberg; unique additions include the “Mazagran” with Guyanese rum, brandy, amaro, coffee, pecans and black peppercorns, the “Button Hook” comprised of armagnac, apricot, white mint, rhum agricole and absinthe, and the “Journalist,” featuring rum, gin, cream sherry, goji berry and sweet french vermouth.
As for food, authenticity is highly favored over schtick; focusing on traditional Cuban ingredients and lots of seafood, with era-appropriate Spanish and Mexican influences thrown in. Plantain and Yucca Chips get dipped in salsa fresca, Sugarcane Shrimp are served with chunks of espelette-seasoned watermelon, and Pork Ribs are glazed in tamarind and (of course) plenty of aged rum. Larger feeds include Crispy Red Snapper with “Moors and Christians (black beans and sofrito-tinted rice), and a refined Rabbit Cuban Sandwich with confit leg and rosemary roasted ham — which is definitely on theme and a whole lot of fun, but light years beyond what you could expect to find at silly amusement parks like Senor Frog’s.
22 Battery Pl.