Ingredients: Vodka, Gran Classico, crème de mure, lemon, activated charcoal
Black magic: While looking at trends for Brass Union’s latest menu, general manager and beverage director Paulo Pereira came across activated charcoal, touted as a hangover cure, skin care elixir and teeth whitener. Here, it lends both a fuller consistency and a moody look, but don’t be scared off. “People think of burnt toast or a charred piece of steak,” Pereira says. “It’s visually aggressive, but I’ve heard people call it grape Kool-Aid.”
Flavor profile: With its orange and blackberry notes, this falls under the beginner section of the drink menu, stacked with easy sippers. “You could suck it down in two seconds if you wanted to,” says Pereira, who recommends it for imbibers fond of Bee’s Knees and Palomas. “I tell people all the time, there’s nothing wrong with being a beginner.”
Musical notes: Garnished with a sunny lemon slice, the Day & Night also harks back to Kid Cudi’s 2009 hit. Musical nods have popped up elsewhere on the cocktail list, as in the spirit-forward Satchmo Slur, which paid homage to Louis Armstrong. “We joked that if you have a couple of these you’ll be slurring yourself.” Beyond the bar, music curator Jeff Wallace crafts the restaurant’s playlists and brings in local talent for live DJ nights, including Primitive Sounds, which has DJ Easy Ed and a guest spinning classic R&B and rock ’n’ roll on vinyl twice a month.
Second round: Ask Pereira for an intro to Japanese whisky while sipping on the latest cocktail on draft, a highball featuring a housemade ginger syrup, which he expects will last through January.
Brass Union 70 Union Square, Somerville (617-623-9211) brassunion.com