If you don’t want the pressure or commitment of a romantic dinner, take it from a couple of bar birds that getting a beautifully crafted cocktail can be a great way to get into the mood. Sitting at the bar offers the best of all worlds — it’s perfect for intimate conversation or bar critique and customer watching, and there are mystery boozy bottles to discover together. Ron and I love to sit at the bar and take it all in. Our expectations are high and take into account glassware, ice shape, garnish, coaster, technique and hospitality. We are willing to try almost any drink, but our fall-backs are the Old Fashioned and the Dark & Stormy.
A quintessential dark and sexy bar in PVD is The Avery (averyprovidence.com). The décor is lush, and the art deco motif and plush seating are the perfect setting to ignite amorous feelings after a long day. On the night we went, there was a great playlist spinning and our drinks were made with obvious care. Ron ordered his go-to Old Fashioned made with Basel Hayden bourbon whiskey, Angostura bitters and a muddled cherry and orange wedge; it was the perfect drink in the perfect location. I went with the Nor’Wester, which is similar to my standard, but with a perfect winter twist. It is made with rye whiskey, ginger beer and a dash of Angostura bitters, served in a Collins glass.
The East End (theeastendpvd.com) on Wickenden St has an old world romantic vibe. Cocktails are crafted by a talented team well versed in mixology; they’re willing to assist you with choosing a spirit flight or crafting “a call and respond,” which is a one-of-a-kind cocktail made for you with the spirit of your choice. If you want something to nibble, a pick-your-own charcuterie and cheese board is a fun way to collaborate. Ron ordered an Old Fashioned, which was made with no muddling — a clean offering with a Luxardo cherry garnish. They didn’t have ginger beer, so I couldn’t order my drink of choice; instead I chose the Bang Bang Tiki, and — be warned! — when they list Aleppo chili as an ingredient they are not kidding. It has a wicked kick!
If unlike Ron and I, you don’t appreciate beer goggle lighting on a romantic evening, check out the bright red and sweet scene at Sin (eatwicked.com). With dessert and drink pairings based on the seven deadly sins, you might think you have died and gone to heaven. Belly up to the bright red bar and give Lust a try! It’s tiramisu — layers of espresso cake, milk chocolate ganache and hazelnut crunch paired with lavender mascarpone cream — teamed up with coffee negroni — gin with coffee-infused vermouth, Campari, and coffee concentrate garnished with an orange peel.
If you want a little adventure, try someone else’s neighborhood bar; Avenue N American Kitchen (avenuenamericankitchen.com) in Rumford is a bright bar with a welcoming ambiance. Nick, the chef/owner greeted us, helping get us a spot at the intimate bar by chatting with a couple and asking if they would move down one seat so that we could sit at the bar (we appreciated getting a little TLC). We had a little bite at the bar: roasted sweet corn soup, which this date-friendly spot happily split for us. I had the decadent crispy Walrus & Carpenter oysters that make you want more. Ron ordered his Old Fashioned and noted to Lesley that it did not have Luxardo cherry. She emphatically told us she would never muddle a Luxardo cherry and prefers to make in the classic form with a muddled maraschino cherry. We love her passion — Ron’s Old Fashioned received high marks! And I finally got my Dark & Stormy, and it was perfect — from the glass to the float of the Goslings to the ice!
Ginnie worked at one of the first brew pubs in California and Ron’s name is on a paddle at Trinity Brewhouse.