Ricky Gomez’s hot daiquiri bar Palomar opened last night, and at 10 p.m. the joint was packed, mint-topped strawberry daiquiris hitting tables across the bar. Gomez, an alum of legendary cocktail bar Teardrop Lounge and James Beard winning restaurant Ox, kept his new bar light, casual, and heavy with the ‘50s Havana vibes. Here are the main takeaways from night one:
- Entering the bar is a little confusing: A small framed photo with the message “Please wait to be seated” almost blends in with the backdrop of the space. A server will direct diners to a table.
- The soundtrack: “Debra” by Beck, “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” by Jamie XX, “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King. So essentially, singalong bangers across time and space.
- The design, a tropical ‘50s pairing of pink and teal, is all general manager Brandon Josie’s doing — he’s a graphic designer in his other life. Gomez, however, was set on painting the mounted rotating fans that warm, strawberry sherbet red, meaning he took the fans apart, coated them all, and then put them back together on Josie’s floor. It was less than 50 degrees outside, but the fans made it seem hotter.
- Speaking of design, the menus match the bar: Little adorable booklets with doodles of palm trees and table of contents. Page one features a very crucial happy hour menu — $1 croquettes, $3 empanadas, and $6 frozen daiquiris.
- As promised, the bar has an extensive daiquiri list. The first four, available blended or shaken, include a simple lime, rum, and sugar, a Hemingway with Maraschino liqueur and grapefruit, and a remix with anejo and cacao. The rest are specialty daiquiris, including plenty of resort favorites like strawberry, banana, and pina colada.
- Beyond daiquiris, the menu has a full set of “collins, coolers and all things bubbly,” which includes an aperol spritz with passionfruit and pineapple gin and tonic. That pineapple gin is also available for $5 shots. It’s made in-house, of course.
- The food menu includes all the promised bar snacks — empanadas, croquetas, Cubans and media noches. The surprises include a selection of oysters: Baked with mojo de ajo, fried with remoulade, on the half shell with mignonette. Heartier eaters may dig the larger plates, entrees like fricasse de pollo or lechon asado (Cuban pork), which come with two sides and rice.
- The bar has two levels: The lower, with the main bar and a few glass tables, and the exposed second floor lined with hanging plants. The glass tables downstairs will soon disappear, to be replaced with high-tops similar to the ones on the second floor: white and speckled with gold.
- More things coming soon: a working light on the second floor to eliminate haunted-house vibes, framed photos of Gomez’s family on the second floor’s palm tree wallpaper, a rooftop for private events, and a patio underneath the large mural next door.
- That mural is hard to miss: a woman in prayer hands with living plants for hair and a bird on her shoulder. That bird is a Cuban Trogon, the island’s national bird, which Gomez asked the artist to add to the piece, according to bar staff. In other words, he literally put a bird on it.
Palomar is open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily.
• Palomar [Instagram]
• Cuban Spot From Former ‘Bartender of the Year’ Ricky Gomez Opens Tonight [EPDX]