For the March/April 2020 issue, executive editor Paul Clarke set out on a cocktail expedition to Argentina’s most bustling cocktail scene: Buenos Aires. For an on-the-ground perspective of where to drink in the city, we tapped Orilla owner and bar director Inés De Los Santos. “Buenos Aires is a big city with a big mix of cultures and traditions. You can clearly see this in the different styles of buildings, the places to go in different neighborhoods, and food and drinks,” she says. “Being a bartender myself, I know the city better by its bars than anything else!” Here, in her own words, De Los Santos takes us on a tour of her favorite local food and drink spots.
Breakfast/Brunch: Narda Comedor
“Among my favorite places to go (and, I must say, it is great for any time of the day) is Narda Comedor. Narda is a real person. She is one of the best chefs in Argentina, and she has particular talent for understanding the worldwide gastronomic cultures. Narda Comedor is a very luminous place, so it’s perfect to begin my day. If it’s Sunday, the Bloody Kimchi carries me away in a blend of vodka, kimchi sauce, wasabi, harissa powder and fresh tomato juice. If it’s another day, I enjoy a fresh pineapple and rosemary lemonade, and when I start to get bored, I ask for a Szechuan Gin Tonic.”
Lunch: Trade Sky Bar
“Buenos Aires has a wide range of architecture styles. Trade is a bar on the 19th floor of one of the landmarks of Art Deco Era: The Comega Building. It is located at a very emblematic corner downtown. From Trade’s Sky Bar rooftop, you can have a breathtaking 360 view including Corrientes Av. and our famous Obelisco. When I have no other alternative but to go downtown, Trade is an oasis in the middle of the hectic city center. I couch myself on a sofa looking at the river while taking my favorite drink there: 10 Días (apple cider, fennel, and aeu de vie Christallino—a very particular distillate that is made in the Rio Negro Valley) while waiting for my sweetbread with avocado cream and mango spheres.”
Aperitif: La Fuerza
“The Chacarita neighborhood has always been the cemetery area, but now it’s becoming an emerging place with new bars and restaurants. At the moment La Fuerza opened, this bar gave real fuerza (strength) to the neighborhood. In fact, La Fuerza is also an Argentinean vermouth made with Malbec and Torrontes wines and this bar was originally the first sales point in the world. Here, I enjoy sitting on the sidewalk at La Fuerza’s corner with my favorite drink: Esquina del Mundo (La Fuerza red vermouth, Cynar Bitter and Hesperidina Liquor). If you want to cap it all, ask for a triolet, a typical Argentinian three-snack tray.”
Dinner With A Good Drink List: Orilla
“Without a doubt, I love this place and strongly recommend it because I spend a lot of time here—I’m the owner! Orilla is located off the beaten track, in a quiet zone (unless River Plate, a popular football team, plays home). We host people all day, however, the evening is Orilla’s star time. Even if we have two different areas—the bar and the restaurant—our drink list is selected to go with all our dinner options. The idea is to pick from our menu of small, medium and large size dishes and share them. However, when there is such a variety of flavors together, I suggest having a cocktail to accompany your meal. My favorite is Del Oeste Gin Tonic made with huacatay (an herb), and my second favorite is Corcega (gin, ambratto, lemon and celery juice).”
Nightcap: 3 Monos
“In the heart of Palermo neigborhood, where Buenos Aires nightlife shines, is 3 Monos, the liveliest corner bar in my city. There isn’t a big investment. There isn’t an entry code. There isn’t a dress code. There isn’t a large number of bottles at the bar. 3 Monos is just a bar by bartenders. It has good and fast service, good music, good drinks, good environment, and it closes really late. Grosera (vodka, white vermouth, white currant, pear cider and Campari honey) is always my first option, as it is for everybody else.
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