There’s been no shortage of plaudits for the food at No. 9 Park over the years, but its status as a world-class cocktail bar is somewhat lesser known — at least outside of the industry and Beacon Hill neighborhood types. Many people may not even realize there’s a vibrant bar scene removed from the fine-dining formality.
That’s something they’ve wrestled with for years, says bar director Ted Kilpatrick. But the high standards set by restaurant filter through to the cocktail program as well.
“Mathematically speaking, cocktails are less than 10 percent of what we do; food and wine are the stars of the show, and should always be,” he says. “Prior to my running the program here, it was decided that if something is going to share a dining room table with the gorgeous food that the chef spent so long preparing, and a beautiful bottle of wine, it should be as world-class as possible and be held to the same standards.”
With the concept of the progress of the tasting menu in mind, two separate cocktail menus are employed at the bar. The first is meant to introduce lighter, aperitif-style cocktails that won’t overwhelm the palate. A second list of more aggressive house recipes is also offered for guests looking to focus more on cocktails.
Kilpatrick had been serving a cocktail that used bourbon washed with foie gras last year that proved more popular than he expected.
He says the drink was so assertive it would end up overpowering the subtleties of the food.
“As much as I loved seeing people walk off street, take a look at the list, order one, love it, then go sit down at a table ... that progression felt irresponsible to us.”
The house list of cocktails is in the process of being expanded to 36 cocktails that illustrate the type of creativity on display at the bar. Among them are options like the Comanche Club, which Kilpatrick de-signed for a J.D. Salinger-themed charity event. The story that inspired his recipe, “The Laughing Man,” is a story within a story. The result, made with Plymouth gin, Cinzano Rosso vermouth, Campari, Chartreuse, Maraschino and lime is a Last Word inside of a Negroni, a tumbling cascade of flavors reminiscent of either cocktail, with nutty sweetness followed by bright herbal notes, then a light bitterness, then back again. The Islay Louisiane, made with Talisker 10, Benedictine, Cocchi Torino vermouth, Kubler absinthe and Peychaud’s bitters transports the New Orleans-style cocktail to Scotland, with the Benedictine and anise notes relaxing the heat and smoke of the hot scotch with a cool effect.
No. 9 Park
9 Park St., Boston