No matter how good the food is, it's vital for res-taurants to generate a bar scene for repeat customers. That's part of the reason why the regularly-lauded French restaurant Pigalle expanded the size of its small bar late last year, and added another six-seat sidebar overlooking the dining room a few weeks back.
"I always feel like a bar scene is the easy introduction to a restaurant," bar manager Michael Florence says. "You sit down, have a drink, have a chat and whether you're in there for an entire meal or not, it gives people an entryway."
Pigalle's has changed dramatically, not just with remodeling, but with the Bay Village area becoming "younger and hipper, with people looking for a place to make their neighborhood bar."
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To that end, Florence, who is trained as a sommelier, has been gradually infusing the wine-focused restaurant with cocktails. When he first started two-and-half years ago, he says Pigalle served about 90 percent wine at the bar. Now, on a wee-kend night, that might switch to 50/50 with cocktails. The wine list is still well-selected -- focusing on Rhônes and the southwest of France -- and affordable, with most bottles between $40 and $65. One standout, Florence points to, is a Domaine Monpertuis made from the lesser-used counoise grape. It pairs especially well with the impossible-to-resist strips of bacon snacks set up along the bar.
What to drink
Cocktail-wise, Pigalle aims for a clean, balanced and seasonal list.
"I like to keep things interesting," says Florence, "give people who may not be totally aware of craft cocktails introductions to products that are used in that world, and drinks that are going to be experimental, but not overblown experimental."
The Rue de Vie is a good example. The drink combines Four Roses bourbon, Averell (a gin-based plum liqueur) Dolin Rouge vermouth and rhubarb bitters for a darkly-fruited bitter effect.
75 Charles St. South, Boston
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