A century ago, all new lands owners in the Berkeley neighborhood were gifted a shade tree by the city. It was soon discovered that maple trees—specifically, the Tatarian variety—thrived in the area’s soil. It’s from that bit of history that Tennyson Street’s recent watering hole sprang: Tatarian opened its doors in late December.
Tatarian, from the team behind the Arvada Tavern and Union Lodge No.1, aims to be a true neighborhood bar. There’s no food here, just well-crafted drinks, dim lighting, and a warm space for catching up with a friend or taking a load off after a long day. The bartenders are friendly and knowledgeable—a necessary trait when the menu is essentially a 40-page book. Each spread includes a short drink description—the opening menu features 16 house cocktails—as well as a brief reference to the tree or shrub that inspired it.
The Tatarian, for example, is a spin on a classic old fashioned. Its natural element comes from the slightly sweet, house made maple-orange-lapsang-souchong-saffron syrup. (Lapsang souchong is a smoky black tea from China.) Then there’s the Blackjack, a smoked cocktail made with rye whiskey and chocolate bitters, named after a species of oak commonly found in forests that have burned.
While all of that can sound like an overwrought gimmick, it’s not. It’s clear that Josh Sevy, bartender and managing partner, put flavor and balance first in developing a menu that’s both fun and elegant—and that will likely introduce even the most seasoned drinker to something new.
Our favorite original taste was found in the Bodhi. The foundation of the drink is a house made, chai-infused pisco. Sevy sous vides the chai mixture—loose-leaf black tea, cinnamon, allspice, cloves—with the pisco, resulting in a bold base. Its spiciness is mellowed by coconut cream syrup and then buoyed by allspice dram. It’s a belly-warming drink ideal for winter sipping.
“I just try to get people to drink different alcohol,” Sevy says of his cocktail development process. “It’s a modern cocktail bar, [but there’s] something for everybody since we are also a neighborhood bar.”
Giving Back: Like Tatarian’s menu? You can own it. Buy a copy for $15, and approximately $10 of your purchase goes to the Arbor Day Foundation, which plants trees around the world. Sevy expects to release a new volume (aka, update the menu) two to four times each year.
Tatarian is open from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily.
4024 Tennyson St., 303-416-4496