Centre Street Sanctuary, a new JP haven, gets creative with cocktails

GOB_ThurstySanc2_0829

As the people behind any newly opened restaurant can tell you, the ins and outs of the liquor licensing system in this city are a byzantine conflation of both contemporary bureaucracy and outdated Puritanism at work.

With artificial caps set on the number of licenses available, it can drive the price of purchasing an existing one up to between $300,000 and $450,000. This particular bit of red tape made things a bit difficult for his concept, says Adam Rutstein, owner of Centre Street Sanctuary, which launched this spring in Jamaica Plain.

“Liquor licenses are priced way out of a restaurant like mine’s range. It’s something the city needs to look into,” he says. “The Seaport district has gobbled up all the licenses.” His is a common refrain among new bar and restaurant owners.

Instead, for his American bistro situated in an an old rectory in the bustling center of JP (the design repurposes pews, lecterns and stained glass windows from area churches, and the bar itself is an old church door) Rutstein bought a wine and beer license, which the neighborhood and city upgraded to a cordials/liqueur license.

What that means is that, in order for his bar to serve a spirit, it has to contain 2.5% sugar — regardless of the proof. You’ll find plenty of boozy liqueurs here, like Green Chartreuse or absinthes. Even flavored vodkas and spiced rums are allowed. It literally makes no sense.

Nonetheless, a creative bar will work with what they have. In fact, it wasn’t until my second cocktail on a recent visit to Centre Street Sanctuary that I realized it wasn’t a full bar. Coincidentally, many of the liqueurs that are allowed under such a license happen to be exactly the type featured at your standard cocktail bars – Cynar and other bitter digestifs.

“A lot of people don’t even recognize we only have a cordials license,” Rutstein says.

Instead, here the focus is on cocktails with bases of port, Angelica, amaretto or pisco, as in the Bittersweet Farewell, which also takes Cynar, Triple Sec, lemon juice, simple syrup and orange bitters.

It’s the type of bittersweet cocktail I’d order anywhere, although in this case it did land a bit too heavily on the sweet side, like a few of the other cocktails here. With so many amaros available, it’s a shame to let them go to waste.

Sailor Jerry’s rum features elsewhere, in both the citrusy Mug O’grog — with lemon and lime, St. Germaine, peach bitters, orange and grapefruit juice, and soda — and the Ward 10 Manhattan — with Punt e Mes, simple, chocolate mole bitters and cherry bitters.

Rounding out the list is a spectrum of sangrias and a fine beer selection of local and craft drafts, bombers, bottles and more than 10 cans. It’s not quite enough to make you drop to your knees and praise the lord (although the soda bread is close to heavenly), but for beer lovers and cocktail drinkers looking to shake some bad habits, it’s a good place to do your penance.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.