Where to Shore Leave, a subterranean tiki bar in the South End, from the team behind Bar Mezzana.
What for A rum-fueled tropical party captained by a bunch of industry veterans.
The scene Descend into a vast room with a Trader Vic’s vibe: a hut-like roof, wood shingles, wicker hanging lamps, and leafy, jungle-themed wallpaper. There’s a long bar, and plenty of little warrens for seating; groups of friends slide into U-shaped booths upholstered in dark green, to nibble on spicy peanuts and pork belly bao while sipping drinks garnished with pineapple. Suddenly the lights go down and there’s an audible group sigh of relaxation.
What you’re eating Small plates from chef Colin Lynch that draw on the cuisines of Asia for inspiration: green mango salad, cool raw scallop kinilaw with coconut and onion, chicken wings spiked with tongue-tingling sansho pepper, dan dan wontons, scallion pancakes with king crab dip. If you want to go big, there’s a whole Rohan duck with all the fixin’s for the table.
Care for a drink? The juicy Shore Leave cocktail combines white rum with passion fruit, lime, bitters, molasses, and Madeira, while the Amaro di Cocco is a cross between a piña colada and a Negroni. The Morale & Welfare takes the daiquiri for a more-brooding spin, with dark rum, grapefruit, cinnamon, lime, and mole bitters. (It’s not all rum: The Mexican Pearl, for instance, merges tequila with tamarind, butter, and spices.) To share with that special someone, there’s the large-format Takes Two to Mango: “Like any relationship, this cocktail is multilayered, salty, sweet, and full of surprises.”
Overheard Talk of Polynesian food, who used to date whom, and the Cocoanut Grove fire. “Gender-neutral bathrooms are a thing now,” a man informs the rest of his party knowingly. “The USB ports are a game-changer,” opines a barfly whose phone is running out of juice. A woman contemplates ordering a Mexican Pearl. The bartender nods: “It’s like a cold buttered rum,” she says. Two friends join their party, dripping wet: “We had to walk in the rain.” “It builds character,” someone says soothingly, and they head to the bar to order up a bit of warmth.
11 William E. Mullins Way, South End, Boston, 617-530-1775, www.shoreleaveboston.comDevra First can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @devrafirst.