Remember, once I wrote about a vermuteria in Barcelona, located, as it turned out, in a landmark building with spikes? This is my ideal sightseeing. I like it when the blocks of stone and brick, in addition to their historical significance, carry life, the city vibe, the modern side of it. This is when the ‘attraction’ ceases to be a museum, but becomes something living and tangible. And the bar-restaurant Locale in Florence is exactly it.
Locale occupies almost the entire 13th century building – the official website describes in scrutiny by whom and when it was owned – but at the moment all this splendor can be enjoyed while sipping champagne and not hearing the annoying guide’s voice. The scale of it is impressive. Several floors, cellars, wine cellars, a 1700 stone oven, and the bar itself, covered with a sliding glass ceiling, occupies what used to be an inner courtyard. Words can’t describe all of this – it’s straight extravaganza. I saw a lot of different bars, but when I get to such places I feel numb at once, I feel like Alice in Wonderland: shrunk, spellbound, behind the looking-glass.
In order to come to our senses, we take a look at the menu. A cocktail costs 20 euros. Of course, sky is not the limit, but still. Talking about the pleasant aspects: cocktails are served with small accompanying snacks, as well as an ‘aperitivo’ – a few snacks. In my case it was a tartlet with pate, ricotta, a box of anchovies and a very strange ‘mouthwash’ substance (according to waiter). I ordered a cocktail, and then the show began.
By the way, it has never stopped. There’s no end to watching how bartenders work in a full swing, it’s just hypnotizing: they use paint brushes for making swabs on glasses, they smother ice in something, put things together and put things into flames, almost juggling with them; they grow the greens under the special lamps right in this very bar. It’s so strange that there are only 4 stools at the bar counter, when a whole show happens in front of you!
My cocktail was served in a wooden box with parts of moka pot inside, each part had a separate cocktail garnish that was placed inside. The bartender began to mix them all lightning fast all up in front of me, while pattering about them, but I was completely unaware of what was happening and understood slightly a thing. But I managed to take a look at my glass before the drink from the already assembled coffee machine collapsed into it. A lump of ice in a glass was dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with nuts and coconut shavings. Ice covered with chocolate!
After such a performance, you expect an explosion, a gastronomic ecstasy. But it wasn’t meant to happen. Despite all the beauty, complexity and intricacies, the cocktail was rather watery, weak and had an unbalanced sweetness. Honestly, when the first impression of the Locale’s splendor started to wear off, there was a feeling that this bar is actually a theater, and the main characters in it are not the guests, but the bartenders. They certainly have the right to all of these stiffness and pretentiousness, but this is the case when I value personal attitude more than skill.
Via delle Seggiole , 12r, Флоренция
Mon-Sun 7:30 p.m.- 2:00 a.m.