In Recoleta, at least at the Alvear Palace hotel, there’s little hint of inflation, deflation, global economic meltdown, recession, blue rates, black rates or any other kind of rate.
Because everything is rather buoyant aboard the Good Ship Alvear Palace, as we can just about scientifically prove, given the recent opening of its Champagne Bar.
Given that smoking, and the smoking of habanos, has scientifically been proven to be detrimental to your health, the Palace very sensibly decided to shut down its Cigar Bar.
I hate it when I sit down for a nice lentil salad from Farinelli’s deli at the AMIA memorial in Retiro and a man chooses my bench over all the other empty ones to smoke his cigar in my face. (True story.) (And yes, I’m a bitchy ex-smoker.)
Following an impeccable cleaning job that removed the smoky grime from every last orifice and air vent, the Cigar Bar has risen from the ashtray like a phoenix and turned into a far more palatable kind of joint. The Champagne Bar! My kind of (not tobacco-related) joint!
Any time of the day
Like a broken record, I always say Champagne is the only beverage of the alcoholic variety that you can sup at at any time of day. Breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, and of course dinner, before during and after.
While there hasn’t been much of a revamp in the decorative sense, let it be known that the Champagne Bar is an intimate watering-hole for up to 20, with tiger-print armchairs, white leather sofas, a vast mirror, art déco light fittings remain, a quiet space on the mezzanine overlooking Hermés (another sign that inflation, deflation, global economic meltdown, recession, blue rates, etc simply do not exist on this corner of Buenos Aires.)
This is a quiet spot away from the hustlers and busts (I mean hustle and bustle, of course) of busy Alvear Avenue, ideal for a post-work rendez-vous or for impressing the pants off someone you want to be special in your life for more than one night
A polish your shoes, adjust your tie and apply fresh make-up kind of place.
While the Champagne Bar is in the able hands of cheery-faced Ramiro Martín, who was recently leading affairs at Artesano, the bar at sister hotel Alvear Art in Microcentro, he is in fact immaculately executing drinks created by the grande dame of Argentine cocktail making.
Inés De Los Santos is the stuff of drink-slinging legend, with a career spanning Gran Bar Danzón and Casa Cruz among others. Julep is her current baby and this drinks company can be found popping up at various events and fairs including Masticar (due to take place in April this year, rather than in October, foodie fans).
The cocktail list is a classy affair with playful adaptations to classic Champagne beverages to cock your tail. The cherry-based Kir Royale is now an Amarenas Kir, based on three ingredients: Baron B Extra Brut, Amarena cherry syrup and Luxardo liqueur, maraschino-flavoured, of course.
There is something rather sultry and attractive about the Aged Negroni Sbagliato (160 pesos), which is aged in a miniature oak barrel to give off the maximum punch required. This is a man’s Champagne cocktail, quite butch and powerful, that is toned down slightly by the interesting (and top-secret) addition of syrup dosage and orange zest. Regular Negroni drinkers will dig its masculinity.
Fizz in your gunpowder
Great big girls like me, however, might rather more enjoy the Fizz Gunpowder (also 160 pesos). With a Chandon Brut Nature bubble base — a lower level of sugar than your average Extra Brut — it also encompasses green-tea infused gin (it’s healthy!), lime zest (it’s zingy!) and lemon syrup (it’s gooey citrus in one hit!). This is refreshing femininity in a tumbler. And totally chuggable too.
Two might well have Ramiro calling the taxi hotline for you (please don’t make a scene, this is the Alvear Palace after all).
But if your beverage requires the vrai McCoy straight from Côte des Blancs or Montagne de Reims, turn to La Provence Mimosa, featuring lavender bitters, pink grapefruit juice and Veuve Clicquot (280 pesos). It’s like frolicking through a field of the purple stuff while getting slightly jolly.
Only a hardened soul won’t be tempted by the 11-strong Champers cocktail list.
Naturally, an array of fizzes by the glass is available, while bottles (breathe in for the prices) include La Grande Dame Rosé (10,760 pesos), Krug (9,200 pesos), Cuvée Dom Perignon 2003 (4,830 pesos) and Möet et Chandon Brut Imperial (a breathe-back-out bargain price of 1,560 pesos).
Need another reason to quaff sparkling wine?
In March, the Champagne Bar will throw open its doors on Thursdays and Fridays for sushi nights with a knife-wielding, non-dangerous sushi man feeding the masses.
Alvear Palace Hotel
Av. Alvear 1891, Recoleta
Tel: 011 4808-2100
Buenos Aires Herald, February 15, 2015