At Escobar, small bites, bold flavours and creative cocktails add a taste of something new
In Latin cultures, food and drink are meant for sharing with friends and family. And that’s the whole idea behind the Fraserhood’s newest hotspot, Escobar, and its tapas-and-cocktails menu.
It’s simply the way co-owner Alex Kyriazis and his partners like to dine. In part, they crave the bright, fresh flavours of Latin cuisine. But they also prefer the fun of sharing. After all, says bar director Bobby Kordonis, “You get to taste more when you share.”
“It’s just somewhere that we felt comfortable in,” Kyriazis says. Adds Kordonis: “It’s a passion project. And it’s extremely bar driven.”
Escobar opened at the booming intersection of Fraser Street and King Edward Avenue on May 11, on the site of the Eastwood, the former restaurant owned by Kyriazis and Ari Demosten. The space has been transformed into an intimately glamorous room of purple tufted banquettes, ornate black-and-white Spanish tiles, white marble tabletops and some of the most comfortable bar stools anywhere. “We sat on 100 bar stools to find out which was most comfortable,” Kyriazis admits.
In the kitchen, chef Sarah Kashani puts an innovative spin on classic Spanish and Latin American dishes such as empanadas, chilies rellenos, patatas bravas and whole roast branzino. Meanwhile, behind the bar, Kordonis is shaking things up in his own way.
“I’m a big believer that if you are able to create the classic cocktails, you should be able to have fun with them,” he says. His cocktail list comprises a dozen cocktails that run the gamut from the sweetly fragrant Creamsicle made with orange-and-vanilla-infused bourbon to the smouldering Abuelito crafted from mezcal, lime and foraged pine smoke.
“I definitely like to run my bar like a kitchen,” Kordonis says. “There are lots of infusions. Half the menu is infused.” In addition to raiding Kashani’s kitchen, Kordonis forages for local ingredients like edible flowers, herbs and pine needles, which he will smoke and transform into bitters. “When you see him out with a huge bag, you know where he’s going,” Kyriazis says with a laugh.
In addition, there are four barrel-aged cocktails on tap (Boulevardier, Negroni, Manhattan and mezcal-based Vieux Carré) and an outstanding gin-and-tonic program of 20 gins (five of them local), three tonics and a selection of botanicals that adds up to “thousands of potential combinations.”
“What I really appreciate about that menu is Bobby’s created a menu where everyone will find a cocktail they will enjoy,” says Kyriazis.
Kordonis smiles: “We just want to welcome guests into our home and show them what we’re all about. It’s all love at the end of the day.”
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Escobar, 4245 Fraser St., Vancouver, 604-873-4477