R. bar Bar Directors Amie Ward and Aaron Joseph created a winter cocktail menu that defies expectations.
There are no hot drinks, no chocolate, and certainly no cream. Instead, they pack the menu with draft cocktails, citrus, and… grappa?
r. bar is located inside R. House, a new food hall concept that calls itself “The Launchpad of Baltimore’s Most Exciting Chefs”. The goal of R. House is to provide space for up-and-coming chefs to get their start before opening up their own free-standing restaurant.
r. bar's winter menu includes a wide range of housemade syrups, a housemade liqueur, and various formats of drinks, including bottled and draft cocktails.
On a menu full of interesting flavor combinations, the one that stands out to me is Hearts and Daggers, a grappa-based cocktail created by Ward.
Grappa is an Italian style of brandy that is made with the skin and stems of the grape (known as the pomace) instead of the juice like other brandies. Ward became a fan of the spirit after trying the line of Grappas from the Marolo family.
The grappa used at r. bar is called Milla, a chamomile flavored Grappa liqueur.
“The Milla was unlike anything I had ever tasted--savory, floral, and sexy as hell,” said Ward. “It is one of the most pleasant and complex spirits I've had in a long time.”
But why use Grappa instead of its trendier cousin, Pisco? According to Ward, Grappa is better at complimenting the other flavors in a cocktail.
“In my experience, I have spent too much time trying to cover the taste of pisco rather than accentuate it,” said Ward. “Conversely, I've had more success complimenting the taste of grappa when working with it.”
Ward shared the recipe for Hearts and Daggers below so you can try out Grappa for yourself.
For a winter menu in Baltimore, there is a lot of citrus going on at r. bar. When the bar does play up the seasonal theme, it does so in a discreet way, like using Sweet Potato Brown Sugar Syrup in the Sweet Ol’ Time draft cocktail.
R. bar plans to cycle through a new cocktail menu every 6-8 weeks.
“We are going for the Baltimore neighborhood bar feel,” said Joseph “When people come in, I want people to feel like r. bar is their bar.