According to bartender Tim Pope, Par is a Latin derivative for equal or balance. He’s brought that very concept to life on Brunswick Street bar Par, which he co-owns with his wife Aimee Pope (who runs the wine program) and fellow bartender Tony Huang (ex-Lui Bar).
Par is sort of like the best consumer tech: the goal is to make things user-friendly and approachable, but if you look under the hood you’ll see they’ve had to really push some boundaries to get there. There’s no going backwards to go forwards, after all.
For example, every drink here is ready-made. While working together at Cloakroom, Tim and Huang learned that their guests cared more about quick service than theatre of cocktail-making. So they stripped it right back and dialed up the drinks prep. Frozen fruits are steeped in booze, breaking down and leaching colour and intense flavours. Citrus is replaced by stable concentrates from the nearby Bitters Lab – or the acidity of wine. Cocktails like the Belle (Marionette peach liqueur, Maker’s Mark bourbon, skin-contact white wine and an imitation peach ferment) are pre-carbonated for a soft fizz. Then everything is just poured to order.
As for ice? There’s not a cube in the house. When shaken or stirred with ice, cocktails are both chilled and diluted (which is a good thing). But to comply with their strict no-shaker policy, Tim and Huang pre-dilute their drinks with water. It actually gives the cocktails extra flavour, according to Tim, as the water content is infused with tea.
The bottled cocktails are all stored at one degree Celsius and, like wine, the aromas and flavours are designed to “open up” as the drink’s temperature slowly rises. That means that the complexity of a cocktail like the Anniversary (vodka and sake steeped with heirloom tomato and rounded out with savoury white-miso brine) can be sipped and enjoyed at your own speed.
Finally, the glassware is universal. Whether you’re having a wine, beer, or cocktail – they all come in the same thin-stemmed wineglass here. The cocktails are served without ice or garnishes. Instead, the sense of theatre is entirely in the balance of flavours and textures in cocktails like the 36 Chambers, which combines leatherwood honey and a local honey liqueur with sencha and matcha teas, and Roku gin.
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