Over the past few years, Boston has seen its fair share of themed bars, including competitive axe-throwing establishments, video game hotspots, and the inevitable meta-retro 70s throwbacks dreamed up by the likes of Tim and Nancy Cushman.
But if there’s one thing certain about novelty and nightlife it’s the relative uncertainty of it, particularly when it comes to nostalgia. When was the last time you dared to enter a rockabilly night in Boston? Or brought out that ill-advised zoot suit you somehow thought you could pull off in the 90's?
Speakeasies are an ever-popular revival that's been a standby for almost 20 years, thanks to the American inauguration of the once-venerable-but-now-shuttered Milk & Honey Bar in Manhattan. And despite widespread claims of pretentious affectation and a default to transparent gimmickry, it doesn’t appear speakeasies will be suffering the same fate of keffiyehs or fedoras any time soon.
Nor can you claim Boston has ever been immune from bandwagon jumping. Wink & Nod. Lucky’s. In fact, by the time a pseudo-exclusive fetishization of a historical mishap which ended before your grandfather was even born makes it out to Woburn, it might stop being a passing fad and be more of an established genre.
Venturing into this genre is Bryan Ames, the bar director of the Merchant Kitchen & Drinks in Downtown Crossing. Ames recently announced an additional venture on the five year old restaurant’s premises: a subterranean enclave known as the Foreign Correspondents Club, scheduled to open later this month. Joining Ames in the speakeasy-themed endeavor will be Merchant’s executive chef Ignacio Lopez, whose resume includes stints at Burlington’s L’Andana and Tuscan Kitchen, as well as Exchange Street Bistro in Malden.
“The cocktail menu will offer some very unique experiences,” Ames stated in a press release. “The purpose of the FCC is to provide drinks and food that are transportive, and a space that encourages interaction, discussion, and hopefully an adventure or two.”
According to Eater, the rotating cocktail at the Foreign Correspondents Club will focus on otherwise elusive spirits including aquavit, mastic, pisco, and tsipouro. Patrons will have to check in at the floor ground host stand, where a vintage postcard will grant access. And if anyone’s passionate—or foolhardy—enough to devote their time to perfecting long forgotten cocktails of yore, it’s Bryan Ames. After all, this is a man who has been known to comb through historical registers at the Boston Athanaeum solely to concoct specialty Revolutionary War era drinks to serve on the cocktail list at the Merchant.
There’s just one question left: is it really in good taste to name your “transportive experience” the Foreign Correspondents Club when international journalists in 2019 regularly have to contend with "adventures" such as kidnapping and car bombs?
Hey nonny nonny, Bryan.
The Merchant Kitchen & Drinks is located at 60 Franklin St in Boston and is open Monday - Saturday from 11:00 am - 2:00 am and Sundays from 10:00 am - 2:00 am. No official date has been announced for the opening of the Foreign Correspondents Club yet. For more information, visit themerchantboston.com/ or the FCC’s Instagram.