After a recent night out at Bar Bolinas, where most of their Northern California-inspired menu was a hit, one annoying miss stood out–the obscure words and vague menu descriptions that have become the norm at Brooklyn restaurants. What’s with this trend of menus that keep the explanation of dishes so short and sweet that it’s not clear to even well-eaten diners what’s going to actually be in each dish? Nowhere is this more prevalent than on cocktail menus. For example, here’s Bar Bolinas’ brief list:
Now I’m no trained mixologist, but I do drink out enough that I feel like I shouldn’t need a translator to figure out what any of these drinks are going to taste like. I get that Elijah Craig is fairly well known, but would it kill their hipster hearts to write “Elijah Craig bourbon? Or to note that Dolin Rouge is vermouth?” And what/who are Suze and Salers? Are those the people who make the drinks? For the record, the server didn’t know either, but was happy to return and explain that Suze is a gentian liqueur (from the root of the gentian plant), with citrus-y and slightly bitter notes. I don’t say this to hate on Bar Bolinas–the service was friendly and the cocktail was excellent, whatever the heck a gentian is–I just think restaurants in general can stop prioritizing sounding sharp and cute over telling us what’s actually in something.