For years the Precinct space in Somerville’s Union Square was a bit of an afterthought for me. With so many other quality drinking destinations having opened in recent years nearby, I never found much motivation to go in. That’s changed completely with the newly revamped Brass Union concept. The re-imagining of the space, (from the same owners of the Independent, Saloon, and the soon to open River Bar in Assembly Row), has updated the concept to fit in with the expectations of the contemporary drinker.
Like before, the room is separated into two areas. Here the front room takes on what they call an old New York style tavern, whose feel will be familiar to patrons of Saloon, with dark woods, distressed mirrors and low light. The back room has been transformed into a sort of rec room, with board games, shuffle board, a table top video game, and a lounge feel.
More importantly, the food and the cocktail program have been brought up to date as well by chef Jonathan Kopacz and bar man Paulo Pereira.
“I think when it comes to the cocktail program especially we really stepped it up a bit from what it was before,” Pereira says. “I was given a lot of freedom when it came to running the list to be as creative as I wanted to, to make as much house-made syrups and sodas as I could. I really wanted to make it for everybody. It’s all over the board, from approachable, easy drinking, and sweet. Then there are really spirit-forward cocktails.”
One such spirit-forward cocktail is Satchmo’s Slur, made with Old Overholt rye, Lillet Blanc, Cynar, orange bitters, and Herbsaint absinthe. It’s bracing, bright, and fragrant. Others take on a more experimental bent, like the Rum and Smoke, made with Bully Boy Aged rum, smoked lime juice, Orgeat, and Ginjinha.
“That drink is quickly becoming our most popular. People read it on the menu and haven’t seen anything like it before,” he says. To make the lime juice, he smokes limes for an hour or two over wood (hickory chips, perhaps) before juicing. The result is more on the nose than in the sip. The orgeat is house made, and the Ginjinha, a cherry liqueur (which I didn’t realize was Portuguese when I ordered it during the World Cup match the other day, so sorry about that) adds a light vanilla note.
More playful concoctions come in the form of the Jumpman Julep, made with tequila, fresh pineapple, orange and pomegranate juices and agave nectar, and topped with coconut foam and a grilled pineapple spear. “I always liked the idea of having your own foam, and thinking about the summer months, I wanted to do something tiki-like in style. Tequila makes for a really nice summer drink.” The foam is a simple recipe of coconut milk, lime juice and sugar, and is garnished with toasted coconut. “It makes for two drinks in one. You can mix in the foam, change the flavor or eat the foam itself,” he says. “I see a lot of people doing both.”
Just like the two separate bars here.
If you go
70 Union Square, Somerville