The South End has a wealth of restaurants and bars, of course, but spend enough time there and even your favorite ones start to seem a little well-trod.
Lately I’ve been drawn back to Coda, a lesser-known bar that has the potential to become a regular arrow in my boozed-up quiver. With the latest offering from the same ownership group — Canary Square in JP — getting a lot of attention lately, I thought it might be time to revisit Coda to see what sort of gravitational pull the new bar across the city has had. Turns out the cocktails and beer at Coda have vastly improved from my last visit a few months back.
Inside, it’s a dimly lit, vertical slice of a room with swooping smooth surfaces on one side and a rough brick exterior on the other; the bar is large by South End standards, and the cocktail list is tidy and well-designed. One jumps out at me right away — The Fernet-Me-Not (see below).
What he’s having
» The Fernet-Me-Not is made with Old Overholt rye, Fernet Branca, Domaine de Canton and Regans’ orange bitters. After a few sips, it instantly becomes my favorite cocktail of the new year. Bartender Brandon Carmack, who created it, says it’s his favorite as well. The bitter, burnt bark earthiness of the Fernet is balanced with the slightly sweet ginger spice of the Canton, with a little acid from the lemon and a hint of orange.
» Fernet and rye can be a hard sell sometimes to people who aren’t in the know. Carmack says he loves it when his guests try something new.
» “I wish people would be a little more adventurous,” he says. “I have a lot of people that come and say ‘Make me whatever you want.’ But it’s difficult when someone comes in and they say ‘Make me something that’s vodka, and make it really fruity.’ A lot of times I’ll say ‘Let me make you something, and if you don’t like it, I’ll make you something else.’”
» He won’t need to if you try this cocktail first.
329 Columbus Ave., Boston