Friday, November 13, 2009

Barcode: Ginger Park

When a cocktail recipe gets too busy, one superfluous ingredient can obscure the intended flavors. In mixing, as they say in poetry or music, sometimes the things you take out are just as important as the ones you leave in. The same can be said about the design of a bar as well. At Ginger Park, the new modern Asian restaurant and bar occupying the former BanQ space in the South End, the fluid wooden architectural waves throughout the dining room have survived the editing process. But the removal of one dividing wall between that space and the bar has worked wonders. The bar seems a piece of the whole now, and the swooping design grabs hold of you and pulls you into the movement of the room. “Now it’s about function and design, not just design,’’ bartender Don Wahl told us. “Getting rid of that wall fixed the whole feng shui of the place.’’

The renovations have also increased the size of the bar itself, which is good news for drinkers looking to avail themselves of the cocktails designed by bar manager Geoffrey Fallon. Fittingly, a few of them revolve around sake, as in the Kyoto Cooler (sake, grapefruit juice, agave nectar, lemon juice, $8). Served on the rocks in a tall glass, it’s made with Gekkeikan, a light sake that’s both salty and slightly sweet. It makes for a clean, crisp tartness. It also shows up in the Sake Bulle (sake, St. Germain, prosecco, $11; below left). It’s 15.6 percent alcohol, but you wouldn’t know that by taste. This martini is like lightly perfumed sparkling water, and just as clear.

“We utilize sake to deepen the flavor of other liqueurs,’’ Fallon says. It also works well in combination with other spirits like gin and vodka. “A lot of people try the cocktails and say, ‘What is that flavor?’ It’s very ethereal.’’

Savory and sweet or sweet and spicy cocktails are a particular favorite for Fallon, as in the Tamarind Margarita (tequila, orange liqueur, tamarind paste, lime, agave nectar, salt and pepper rim, $10). The margarita is thickened with the tart, citrusy tamarind paste, and the pepper on the rim makes the flavors pop. They’ll also be mixing chipotle peppers in with the recipe soon. It’s easy to add whatever to margaritas these days. Harder still to make a memorable one. And what of reinventing the poor, maligned mojito? After trying the Shiso-Jito (rum, yuzu, shiso leaf, simple syrup, soda, $10, below right), we might never go back to the original. This cocktail combines bright fruit from the yuzu and an herby, medicinal quality brought on by the muddled shiso, which is sort of a cross between cilantro and mint. With the type of heat found on the small-plates menu, this cocktail’s cooling effect is not something you’ll want to leave out.

Ginger Park , 1375 Washington St., Boston. 617-451-0077.

Boston Globe

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