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and outs of the liquor licensing system in this city are a byzantine conflation of both contemporary bureaucracy and outdated Puritanism at work.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
Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…