To many a seasoned drinker, the thought of strolling into a historic neighborhood and seeing a bar stocked only with cordials can be something of a turnoff to the uneducated. And that fact isn’t lost on Jameson Visconte, beverage director for the just-opened North End newcomer, Crudo Boston.
Visconte, a Boston-area native and previously a Las Vegas mixologist, says after being asked by the owners to create a bar program to go with the unconventional-for-the-North End sushi and Japanese cuisine, he was informed it would be a cordials-only license. Facing that, he realized he’d have to get very creative in order to not have the discerning and at times hard-to-please local palates disregard the restaurant and turn their noses up right out of the gate.
“I wanted to embrace being different. At first the owners wanted Peroni on the menu. I was like, ‘We’re a Japanese place in the North End. There are a ton of places to get that. We’re already different, let’s embrace that.’”
Necessity is the mother of invention, and the cocktail list here is a still-evolving affirmation of that. But the fact that it’s a Japanese restaurant means they can go heavier on the inclusion of creative uses of sake in place of other spirits. The Social Mule is an Eastern spin on a classic Moscow Mule with a mix of organic sake, ginger beer, and liqueur. The Pink Panda is a dangerously smooth sipper that’s loaded with Nigori sake, St. Germain, apple juice, and Luxardo cherries. The Salem Street is a simple apricot brandy and organic sake concoction. And naturally, sake bombs are a regular sight on the tables here (bonus: They swap the Bud Light for some dynamite Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale).
If the presence of sake bombs and the sleek vibe of reclaimed wood walls bouncing ambient house music around the room seem like they set out to attract a young, professional crowd … well, you’re right. Visconte and general manager Tim Panagopoulous say that since opening, the clientele has largely been locals seeking a respite from the pasta- and pizza-heavy normalcy of life in the neighborhood.
“We built [Crudo] for the community [as] something different in the North End,” says Panagopoulous.
CRUDO BOSTON. NOW OPEN. 78 SALEM ST., BOSTON. 617-367-6500. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT FACEBOOK.COM/CRUDOBOSTON