Buenos Aires has a very European vibe, from the extremely French architecture to the wide, tree-lined streets. On one smaller tree-lined street, there is an elegantly-appointed florist shop called Floreria Atlantico. Large containers of roses, lilies, sunflowers and other blossoms fill the store with gorgeous scents. On the wall, there is a red ladder that is used to access the many bottles that line the shelves. (The florist shop is also a liquor store – how’s that for one-stop dinner party shopping?)
At 8 pm, Floreria Atlantico opens what appears to be the refrigerator door and guests are invited down the stairs to the room beneath the florist shop, which is a hidden bar. Hearing of this spot, I knew we had to go. As you know, TravelFoodCool loves a good speakeasy (catch up here on the speakeasies in Seoul and Montreal)!
The room is quite long and narrow and a long bar runs along one side. Tables are usually saved for diners (it is also a restaurant), but as all good cocktailers know, the bar is where the action is and the spot to be to watch the show. The music, well, as a lover of 80s music, I was a big fan. Judging by the reaction of the multi-generational crowd, I was not alone.
We had the good fortune to sit in front of two bartenders. Our bartender, Ivo, one of only two of the bartenders who have been there since the bar opened four years ago, presented us with a drinks menu (only one, because it was their new menu and they only had six!) and we perused with interest. Drinks are broken down into country or person of inspiration (Italia, Francia, Ingliterra, as well as Crillios and Antoine Sainte-Exupery – he of The Little Prince fame ).
Tweezers and herbs are front and centre, in our case literally as we sat in front of a row of pots filled with mint, rosemary, eucalyptus, thyme and various bar tools (from muddlers to strainers and tweezers). As a nod to the florist shop above, some drinks are garnished with flowers.
The cocktails are meticulously handcrafted and the attention to garnish detail is fun to watch, as blow torches light up star anise or brûlée sugar-coated ginger.
The bar is an enthusiast of the new low waste cocktail movement, sometimes referred to as “Trash cocktails”. The movement looks to reduce bar waste, both from ingredients to plastic. Floreria Atlantico’s cool metal straws take the place of plastic and their “Trash Sangria” is made from leftover wine which is infused overnight with leftover fruit.
The Negroni I had was served in a super-cute little bottle, topped with a small cork, which contained pine nuts, bay leaves and Campari that is barrel-aged on site.
Pete’s cocktail, the “Cyn Tonica”, is based on a local gin, Apostoles (which we bought a bottle of upstairs), with tonic and the addition of Cynar. It was garnished with a eucalyptus sprig.
For second cocktails, we asked Ivo to make us something. Pete asked for a drink that said Argentina and was surprised with “Vasito de Vermouth #2” – a house-infused vermouth with soda de azafrân, and olives which were stuffed with ham and cheese. While I would never have thought of this simple combination, the salty, hammy, cheesy olives really enhanced the drink.
Given my love for ginger, Ivo made me a “Forêt Tropicale” which was made with Monkey Shoulder banana liqueur, ginger, honey and a caramelized ginger slice on top. While a touch sweeter than I normally prefer, it was ginger-forward.
Ivo gave us small tastes of some of the house-infused ingredients. One of my favourites was a pale pink “juice” that turned out to be moonshine infused with local potatoes. Pete loved the regional Cerveza Atlantico beer which used pine-infused water.
While the bar only had six of the new menus, Ivo was kind enough to give us a copy of the previous menu, which includes his photo. This lead to some confusion behind the bar as one of the waitresses thought I had stolen one of the precious new menus (it was sticking out of my purse). For the rest of the evening, I proceeded to place the mini pots of herbs or cups of bar utensils in my purse and wait for the reaction.
If in Buenos Aires, put this spot on your “where to drink” list – your senses will thank you. [ELIN’s TIPs: get there early to get a good spot at the bar. Also, go sooner rather than later because Ivo is moving to Spain.]
In Buenos Aires, we stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel. Not only is it stunning, with fabulous service and two great restaurants, it’s a quick 5 minute walk to Floreria Atlantico.
Where: Arroyo 872, C1011 CABA, Argentina; When: Open Sunday – Saturday 8pm – 2am (Saturday to 4am)