Having opened a mere 4 months ago under the Chinatown arch, Bar Robo is a relative newcomer to Ottawa’s cocktail scene. However, its resident cocktail connoisseur Connor MacFadyen is anything but a rookie when it comes to mixing tasty and unusual drinks. As a result, the cocktail menu at this hybrid coffee shop/music venue/bar is ever-changing and always includes a few unique surprises.
MacFadyen’s latest invention, a tropical take on a Clarified Milk Punch, easily wins the prize for “most unusual cocktail preparation”. The drink starts with a base of 3 kinds of rum and an infusion of muddled pineapple, green tea, and spices. After steeping overnight, it’s the addition of that last unexpected ingredient — milk — that causes the acids to separate and, once strained, gives the final product a uniquely silky taste and texture that you won’t find using any other method. The tropical flavour of this particular milk punch was so pure and bright that it was like drinking bottled sunshine. In fact, the clarified milk punch is one of a few select cocktails that come bottled at Bar Robo, another unique twist on the cocktail experience that means you can have your drink almost as soon as you order it.
For any vegans craving a classic sour, Bar Robo’s most popular cocktail, the Somerset Sour, has been modified to be vegan-friendly by replacing the traditional egg whites with aquafaba (which is actually just a fancy name for chickpea water).
Featuring Capo Capo, aquavit, dill, lemon, and plum bitters, the Somerset Sour is both mouth-puckeringly sour and refreshingly herbal all at once. If you’ve never heard of the feature ingredient before, that’s because Capo Capo was only recently created and released in Canada as of fall 2015. It’s the result of a collaboration between a group of Toronto-born entrepreneurs and the renowned Cappelletti family, a century-old maker of fine spirits from the small alpine town of Trento, Italy. The result was Capo Capo, a modernized ruby-red rhubarb and bitter orange aperitivo perfectly suited for contemporary cocktails like the Somerset Sour.
A final interesting item on the menu at Bar Robo is the Kalimotxo (pronounced cal-ee-MO-cho), also known as the ‘Poor Man’s Sangria.’ The Kalimotxo finds its origins in Spain and is immensely popular with Spanish teens (for reasons that will quickly become clear). Traditionally made using a combination of cheap red wine and Coca-Cola, Bar Robo’s version kicks it up a notch with the addition of cherry vanilla bitters. It’s this extra splash that gives the drink the awesome flavours of both a red-wine sangria and that rare beast, Black Cherry Vanilla Coke. At only 5 dollars a drink, it’s a cheap and delicious cocktail for Spanish teens and adult cocktail lovers alike.
Pair any of these drinks with a freshly squished-together ice cream sandwich (I recommend for the half matcha/half ginger combo!) and some local live music for a truly awesome Bar Robo experience.