Waiting for a warm up

The Cilantro Sting mixes cilantro, Serrano chilies, and tequila. The Cilantro Sting mixes cilantro, Serrano chilies, and tequila. (wendy maeda/globe staff)
By Luke O'Neil
Globe Correspondent / March 6, 2009

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The latest in a long line of hotel restaurant bars is the recently launched Sensing at the Fairmont Battery Wharf. Opened by celebrated Michelin chef Guy Martin, it's based on his Parisian restaurant of the same name.

Here Martin and company transplant the focus on fresh, regional ingredients to the Boston waterfront. It's an approach the mixologists behind the bar share as well, with a variety of seasonal cocktail recipes made with fresh herbs and spices.

Many of the drinks we tried were the type of summery cocktails that would definitely be better enjoyed outside along the water, taking in the view of the maritime city's comings and goings. (Sensing will eventually feature seasonal outdoor dining.)

On a bracing winter night, we found solace at the visually pleasing hand-laid tiger marble bar, and in a few glasses as well. The Cilantro Sting (cilantro, Serrano chilies, Absolut, Patrón Silver, fresh lime juice, $17), in particular, was a welcome respite with its layers of heat and spice from the chilies and tequila. They're pressed into the glass with a substantial portion of cilantro, which makes for a grassy, dry, and well-balanced mix.

The Katana (Absolut, Nigori Sake, fresh lime juice, pressed cucumbers, $17) was a second crisp, pleasing option. Like many of the others it leaned heavily toward the vegetal side.

The Oak and Sage Margarita (Sauza Tres Generaciones Anejo Tequila, Grand Marnier, fresh lime juice, pressed organic sage, egg whites, $17) was a playful variation on the margarita with a wholesome eggy froth, and notes of lime and orange playing off one another. The oak of the aged tequila, and a heavy sage base give this cocktail its name, and most of its flavor.

"The sage gives an earthiness to what otherwise might be a summery drink," said bartender Jason Brown.

Other options like the Pomegranate and Cucumber Mojito (pressed cucumber, organic mint, Bacardi Light, fresh lime juice, pomegranate juice, soda, $17), a dark fruit and minty vegetable blend, and the Seaport Lemon Smash (Ri 1 Rye Whiskey, muddled lemon, organic mint, sugar, $14), an evenly sugared, citrus-and-spice variation on a Mint Julep, had us gazing out the window longingly, waiting for the warmth of summer so we could properly enjoy them in concert with the scenery.

Until the winter breaks, however, we don't see ourselves going back. Sure, if you're staying at the hotel in the first place, you probably have money to spare, but stopping in for a cocktail after work, or on a weekend night just doesn't make sense with such prohibitively priced drinks. Perhaps at some point that, like the seasons, will change.


Sensing, 3 Battery Wharf, Boston. 617-994-9000.

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