Back Bar: Drinking in full view is really for amateurs

Back Bar puts the whole “see and be seen” notion underground.

To find this new hot bar, you’ve got to go down an alley into a sketchy parking lot, look for the unmarked door, walk down a stark hallway that feels like it’s in the middle of a construction site and head toward the sound of clinking glasses. It sounds like a parody of the New York City dining scene, but it’s actually Somerville’s new Back Bar, which, come to think of it, would fit in perfectly in Brooklyn.

“I would definitely agree with that,” says co-owner Sam Treadway, previously of Drink.

He co-owns the space along with the folks behind the adjacent Journeyman restaurant. Whatever city we’re talking about, it’s the coolest new bar to open this year that I’ve seen. Everyone is doing industrial-chic now, but Back Bar feels like they halted construction halfway through with its mismatch of bohemian design and raw building blocks. Bonus points, too, for feeling detached from the outside world. Drinking outside, or near windows, is for amateurs.

“We’re going to clean it up, but we’re not going to change the kind of stark hallway look to it,” says Treadway, fresh from a stint opening a hotel bar in Hawaii. “We’ll finish the paint job, make the floor look less gross — but besides that, it’s still going to be ugly fluorescent lights when you walk in the door.”

And the drinks?
   
Treadway’s main concern is the building materials behind the bar, of course. Working with the team from Journeyman, which has a stellar reputation for its approach to local, fresh ingredients, will influence his cocktail designs, he says. His background, coming from Drink, is classic recipes and techniques — but he’s excited to flex his creative muscles by mixing foams and creating cocktails like his Smoke and Coke. It’s Bacardi Oak Heart spiced rum, lime syrup, Moxie cola and bitters poured over ice that has been infused with billows of smoke during the freezing process.

Back Bar doesn’t look like it cost a million dollars to open, but it still has a high standard for ingredients and takes its cocktails with the right blend of reverence and fun (although, like at Drink, you might have to wait longer for them to arrive). That’s rare in this time of super-sized flashy launches. Places like this are a lot harder to find, sometimes by design.


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