Rum, ron or rhum? Whichever variety of sugar cane distillate has your fancy you’ll find a wide selection at Little Barrel, a bar specialized in rum in Geneva.
Back in October last year, Nicolas Berger and Quentin Beurgaud, two of Geneva’s most talented bartenders, combined their talent to open a new bar in partnership with the directors of Le Chat Noir, where Nicolas used to be Bar Director. Along with some friends they entirely renovated an old neighbourhood bar in the Eaux-Vives district transforming it into a cozy hangout place, great for a date night or a chill night out with friends. Except for the plumbing and electricity they pretty much did all the works themselves. Their hands on dedication even applied to the coasters. Nicolas made them by cutting wine cases into squares and polishing them. If that’s not personal attention to details I don’t know what is! Also the logo, menus and pictures were done by friends.
The subdued light from the bargain-hunted ceiling lamps, the small round tables, wooden stools and leather benches in the front room, as well as the leather sofas and armchairs in the back room reminiscent of a gentlemen club all combine to create an intimate environment.
“Our bar is more fitted for winter nights than the summer”, Nicolas explained my mother when I brought her to Little Barrel the other day. Lucky for them, the bar is located in a pedestrian street and they can make the most of it when the warm temperatures play along. They had a bench the length of their terrace custom made and they can seat around 30 people outside.
As a self proclaimed rum bar, Little Barrel naturally has quite the selection of sugarcane distillates. You can make your pick between the more than 80 rums (and counting) from all over the world figuring on the black board hanging in the bar’s front room and on the bar’s log book (see below), aye Captain! Or ask Nicolas and Quentin about the latest entries.
If you’re not a fan of rum, don’t worry. The bar serves the other usual suspects (vodka, whisky, gin, tequila, mezcal, …) as well.
The menu consists in paper sheets clipped on a wooden clipboard. The cocktail list comprises about 35 entries, including mocktails. El Presidente, White Negroni, Old Fashioned Rum and Brooklyn are barrel aged, not a surprise when the bar’s name is Little Barrel. My personal rum cocktail favourites are the Trinidad Connection (Rum Angostura 1919, Angostura bitters, apple juice, lemon zest and vanilla sugar), Wake up (Rum Dictator 12 yrs, Espresso, Hazelnut syrup topped with a grilled hazelnut espuma, served in a paper cup for a twist on the Espresso Martini) and Nico’s Mary (Nicolas’s take on the Bloody Mary with rum, truffle spray and a mysterious secret ingredient). In the non-rum cocktails, I recommend La Belle de Cadix, a gin based cocktail with vanilla sugar, red pepper and thyme.
Along cocktails, Little Barrel also serves soft drinks, wines and beers. No tap beer here but, true to the bar’s dedication to rum, you’ll find Rum Finish, an award winning beer by Scottish brewery Innis & Gunn that was matured in rum barrels.
For hungry stomachs there are three “tapas” dishes on order, including a pastry one for those with a sweet tooth. My favourite is the Mediterranean one, with houmous, tomato caviar and moussaka from a nearby Lebanese restaurant.
Through their connections with other bartenders and brand ambassadors, the guys at Little Barrel regularly organize guest bartending gigs (in house or at other bars) and tasting events. They’ve also launched a monthly Ti-Punch party where guests are given the ingredients, tools and glasses to prepare their Ti-Punch cocktails themselves. Just like their Facebook page to be kept in the loop.
If you want to unwind with your friends or are looking for a laid-back, moderately noisy place to go on a date, Little Barrel is the place to go. Nicolas and Quentin will discreetly care of the smooth running of your evening from their position behind the counter.
Pictures: Little Barrel/Nicolas VILLION © 2015