backbar — Photo courtesy of Strohm-HermanRecently opened backbar, in Somerville's Union Square, is a step out of the present and a leap into the past. You can't help but feel a little sense of excitement as you walk along the alleyway, in Union Square's parking lot, through the door featuring the handmade sign that simply says, “backbar.”
Down the elementary school-esque hallway, through the unmarked door, and into the dimly lit room buzzing with cool, is where you'll be met by a smiling face. Decked out in a prohibition-era outfit, he or she will be eager to help you find a place to hang.
Seating includes wooden stools that look like empty shipping crates, which I imagine bootleggers would’ve used to transport their wares in 1920s "Boardwalk Empire" style. In the bar area, the decor is more trendy/modern with high top glass tables, sleek black stools and gray, black and red upholstery.
The clientele is more hipster than flapper and the music more 1980s than 1920s, but the ice comes in chunks in the creative cocktails they serve. More than a step away from the ordinary rum and Coke is backbar’s menu mainstay, the Smoke and Coke. This Cuba Libre is infused with the smoky goodness you'd expect in BBQ, but would not expect in your drink. The crazy concoction is quite pleasing, but if a smoky cocktail is not your drink of choice, the bar offers daring daily specials and can pretty much mix up anything you'd like.
Beyond the booze, backbar offers some of the best bar snacks around. Affiliated with its neighbor, the fabulously seasonal/local joint Journeyman, backbar has a culinary advantage over the competition. Their Spicy Caramel Popcorn is a perfectly sweet and spicy snack to keep your cravings at bay, and the Charcuterie made me want to order more.
However, it is The Taste of Journeyman that should not be overlooked as it is the star of all bar snacks: a sampling of Journeyman's daily menu that lets backbar patrons sample the cuisine that makes Journeyman so special without the Journeyman price tag.backbar — Photo courtesy of Strohm-Herman