Cocktails at Clio
Hand crank ice crusher. Bright purple lavender ice cubes. Loomi. What do all of these things have in common?
They are items found behind Todd Maul’s bar at Clio. If you enjoy a well-made cocktail, and looking for concoctions that push the limits of mixology, then you are in for a treat. You may even want to get to the bar a few minutes before your imbibing companion just to allow yourself enough time to read the cocktail book (it’s not a standard menu but more of a pamphlet) with it’s 82 cocktails of glory. The extra few minutes will also give you enough time to chat with one of their friendly bartenders, who will be sure to give you a recommendation if you find yourself pleasantly overwhelmed by the variety or unfamiliar with some of Maul’s ingredients.
Inspired by the creative and perhaps one-of-a-kind libations, we ordered a few cocktails during our last visit. First, I wanted to try the 110 Old Raj gin after reading a Q&A with the master himself and order the Todd Collins. This Tom Collins base was dressed up with a lavender ice cube and candied petals that slowly brought color into the glass. Easy to sip and delicious, I would highly recommend this one to any gin lover.
Jon ordered a classic Sazerac, this one in particular being named by Boston Magazine as the best sazerac in the city. And both of us agreed that it was one of the best ones we’ve ever had. Not too sweet, easy to drink (perhaps a little too easy) and incredibly well proportioned.
For my second cocktail, I selected the Bull’s Eye Gin and Tonic. The drink’s name sake comes from the ice cubes with loomi frozen in such a way as to look like a bull’s eye. When we asked our lovely bartender what loomi was, she politely explained that it was a Persian black lime. And was nice enough to show us a one. This little fruit gave the Simple gin and tonic a slightly bitter taste that was refreshing and interesting.
Jons second drink was a Tree Line, made with Kettle One vodka, St. Germaine, lime and mint. While he enjoyed this drink, both of us decided that it was more my taste. As a huge fan if St. Germaine, I liked how its sweetness was cut first by the lime and then by the mint. Perfect cocktail for a summer afternoon.
One last note on the cocktail menu: there was a large selection of tiki drinks, which I would like to try on out next visit. Where these are appearing more and more on Boston menus, I’d be willing to bet that Maul has found a way to put his own stamp on a rum classic.
We sat at the bar intending to only have cocktails, and were pleasantly surprised to be offered a small bite/small plate bar menu. These dishes have become my new favorite. More than an appetizer but less than a dinner, for me, it’s the right amount to snack on without ordering a full, and often times heavy meal. We started out with the Vegetable Tempura. Delicately crispy, the batter was light and flavorful. Accompanied with a soy dipping sauce, this tempura dish is one we would highly recommend.
We ordered two other small plates, one being a Corned Beef Bahn Mi. It was a nice surprise that that although small, there were two per plate, allowing each of us to enjoy. Served with a soy-based dipping sauce, the corned beef was well cooked and served pickled vegetables.
The final small plate we ordered was a Soft Shell Crab Steam Bun. The steam bun was unlike anything Jon or I had ever tasted; the light and fluffy texture was very unique and a very nice way to serve a delicious soft shell crab. The crab was served with an herb aioli, which I really enjoyed.
Lastly, we were treated to an amuse bouche! Escargot in a Zucchini Blossom were bite-size creations delightful and a very fun way to end our evening.
Jon and I really enjoyed our evening at Clio. The atmosphere at the bar was very intimate, and you might need to get there on the earlier side to ensure a couple of seats. We really enjoyed talking to the bartender, who was incredibly nice and tolerant of all of our questions about the cocktail menu. The small plates allowed us to enjoy the bar and still manage to leave satisfied. The creative talents of Todd Maul and Chef Ken Oringer come together for a truly enjoyable experience.
The Bar at Clio is located in the Eliot Hotel, at 370 Comm Ave in Boston’s Back Bay/Newbury and easily accessible from the Hynes Convention Center T station.