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Have you ever found yourself thinking “man, I don’t know where I can just go enjoy a drink, I don’t know any cool bars”? Well, you came to the right place. Welcome to the first installment of I Need a Drink, where I, Tano, share my experiences through various Buenos Aires bars.
One of the most common questions I get as a bartender is “che, you probably know best, what’s a good bar to hit up?”. I usually respond with a long list of recommendations, at the top of which sits Brukbar. Seems like a good idea to start this off with this monument to good drink.
My friend Maga and I sat at Brubak’s bar on a Monday, unafraid of the old curse which states that if you drink on a Monday, you’ll drink for the entire week. It was a cold evening, and Argentina’s futbol team was playing. There was also a pretty sizable amount of people there. If a bar gets this crowded, they must be doing something right.
There were groups of friends, couples off to the side, and fellow gastronomic colleagues at the bar. That’s how Brukbar is: you can sit at the bar and have a chat with the bar staff, sit at a larger table with several friends (up to 6 or 7), or sit somewhere more private with your partner to have a little more privacy — the last booth at the dimly lit corner where you can ignore your drink while you pay attention to something else…
“I feel like I’m inside a whiskey glass. It’s all sepia tones. Kind of American, kind of British, from another time,” said Maga, admiring the many wood details and decorations from a couple of decades ago.
We sat at the bar and were attended by Natanael “Nata” Camera. With a warm welcome, a glass of water and a colorful menu, we started scoping out the drinks.
Among the decorations there’s a table where they display a “recipe” to earn the title of “customer of the month”: come often, eat and drink, buy drinks for the bartenders, leave a good tip and above all, be cool. Those who win this precious prize are granted lifetime discounts and benefits, in addition to being immortalized on the wall of the bar. This bar clearly fosters a friendly environment, and invites you to come often.
Okay, let’s get to the reason we’re here.
Maga ordered a Johnnie Wonka. “A classic drink with a chocolatey twist. Perfectly balanced. Strong but not overwhelming flavors. It tastes like gold, it’s too precious.” Maga is making me wonder if she’s already drunk. But I liked her way of describing it. Makes sense.
I tried the Apple Mario Bros. It is surprisingly fun. As a fan of classic gaming (and its aesthetic) I fell in love with the presentation. It has a clear apple taste, but all the other ingredients shine through. It’s tasty, smooth, and easy to drink.
To quote Britney, “hit me, baby, one more time.” We’re into round two.
When he discovered that Maga was a fan of “the penicillin” (as I am; and if you don’t know it, I urge you to head to a bar and order one), Nata recommended a similar drink to her, but with a Brukbar twist. A Pearfect Sour. It was decorated with a walnut dipped in caramel. “I like that the garnish is innovative and edible. You can taste the freshness of the ingredients, and that they are homemade. Like a pear cake straight out of the oven.”
In accordance with my own taste, and Nata’s recommendation, I ordered a Sintónico. There are a few ways to earn my love, and a pickle garnish is one of them. A wonderful mid-point between a martini and a gin tonic, two drinks that I love. It comes with a splash of tonic water which gives it a very unique and personal touch.
The food menu has several options of burgers, featuring classic, strange, and even vegetarian burgers. With a wide selection of appetizers brought from different foreign cultures. We ordered some nachos to snack on, which were very abundant and filling. While other places are scant with the cheese, Brukbar gives you enough cheese to last you 15 locked-up pandemic days. “There is as much cheese as smiles from the bartender…” I didn’t realize Maga had the power to see through people’s facemasks. With slightly spicy jalapeños, some bacon and a bit of green onion, these nachos live up to the phrase “panza llena, corazón contento” (“full belly, happy heart”).
While he wasn’t bouncing around the bar like a human pinball, we were able to have a chat with Nata and get some of his bartender insights.
What’s your favorite drink to make?
“I get excited whenever someone orders an old fashioned with syrup, especially if it’s made with rum.”
What’s your favorite one to drink?
“Boulevardier. Nearly all bartenders realize they’re in love with negroni, but there are other things.”
Where does Natanael go for a drink during a day off?
“A nice wine bar, like M Street. Because of the ambiance and the wine selection. They treat you really well, especially Juan.”
(Congratulations, Juan, you’re doing a great job.)
Time to measure up
In terms of score, we’re going to rate on a scale of 0 to 5 La Las based on service, ambiance, cocktails, experience, and “returnability” (yes, I like to invent words as well as drinks).
Service : 5/5 La Las. The best service you could ask for. Attentive, quick, and precise.
Ambiance: 4/5 La Las. Really nicely done, but not the main focus.
Cocktails: 4.5/5 La Las. Classic and unassuming ingredients and presentations; nothing mindblowing, but perfectly done and at an unbeatable price.
Experience: 5/5 La Las. A great experience, you really feel like you’re home.
Returnability: 5/5 La Las. “I want to follow the recipe to become customer of the month,” says Maga.
All in all, Brukbar gets 4.7 out of 5 La Las. Fantastic. I definitely feel confident in recommending Brukbar. It’s the perfect bar to become a regular, showing up every week and meeting up with this beautiful family, with friends sitting at the bar and the warm and professional staff that makes you feel as comfortable as a toasty wintertime nap.
With a very wide selection of auteur drinks, with a varied set of tastes and colors. Purveyors of the classics, but on the cutting edge of taste. Brukbar is an experience to live, repeat, and recommend.
It opens every day from 5 to 11 pm.
Fray Justo Sta. María de Oro 1801, Palermo, CABA