|Sean Iglehart prepares a cocktail at Sweetwater.|
At the 6-month-old Sweetwater Bar and Grill
in Boynton Beach, we dare you to find anything recognizable on the rotating cocktail and beer menu.
A quick once-over and you'll see there's not a single familiar favorite. No Cosmos, lemon drops, or mojitos -- not even a margarita.
And forget about ordering a Bud, Miller Light, or any other basic, boring beer. Try and all you'll get is a snicker from the staff. They don't have that type of thing at Sweetwater.
Basically, this isn't your average bar -- and these aren't your average drinks. Instead, prepare for authentic classic craft cocktails brought to you by bartender Sean Iglehart.
Like a speakeasy of the 1920s, the aptly named Sweetwater has managed to keep a low profile since opening in April, its small streetfront space off Federal Highway tucked into a clandestine spot known well only to the on-premise residents of the newly developed Las Ventanas. No advertising. No grand-opening celebration. No banners beckoning passing potential patrons. Just word of mouth, said owner and retired-businessman-turned-restaurateur Clint Reed.
Alongside Iglehart, Reed has armed the place with an arsenal of bitters, house-made infusions, specialty liqueurs, fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Take the baby Hudson whiskey barrels above the bar, for example, where Iglehart lets various concoctions infuse for up to 30 days before serving. Menu highlights include the Manhattan and the daiquiri that is nothing like the frozen, sugary blasphemy you'll find at other bars. The Spanish Inquisition is a potent (and spicy) blend of reposado tequila, cuerenta y tres (Liquor 43), sage, lime, and red pepper flakes.
Part of the authenticity also includes Iglehart's ritualistic execution of his craft, the drawn-out process of creating a layered cocktail using old-world style bar instruments. Prepare for a show, keep an eye out for the wooden swizzle stick, and be sure to sit back when he uses an open flame to infuse your drink with the oils from a lemon peel.
The six beer taps feature craft choices you won't find anywhere else. Sweetwater's beer man, Kevin Huston, tries to select unique labels from national and nearby breweries. And, like the cocktails, the menu changes weekly. You'll never see the same beer two weeks in a row, just as you won't see three of the six specialty kegs they are tapping this week anywhere else in South Florida, each made specifically for Sweetwater by Tampa's Cigar City Brewery.
This Tuesday, the restaurant will host its free Total Tap Takeover event featuring Cigar City Brewery, where you can sample small-batch productions of a Cucumber Saison, Sugar Plum Brown Ale, Humidor Imperial Stout, Oatmeal Raisin Cookie, Peach IPA, and Hotter Than Helles Lager.
So stop by and see why, at Sweetwater, it's all in the details. A photo tour continues:
Sweetwater has more than 30 different bitters used to infuse specialty craft cocktails.
Likewise, specialty liqueurs -- like Yellow and Green Chartreuse -- set Sweetwater apart from other local establishments touting "craft" cocktails.
Six taps sport specialty craft beers that rotate weekly.
Even the ice is special. Reed uses two different kinds -- the pebbles you see here, as well as block cubes so large only one will fit in a regular short glass -- meant to best compliment the drink and liquor used.
Iglehart creates many of the bar's infusions, syrups, and bases in-house using fresh, natural ingredients.
The bar is provisioned with rows of fresh fruits, herbs, vegetables, and a unique assortment of garnishes.
Sweetwater Bar & Grill,1507 S. Federal Highway, Boynton Beach. Call 561-509-9277, or visit sweetwater33.com.
Follow Clean Plate Charlie on Facebook and on Twitter @CleanPlateBPB.
1507 S. Federal Highway, Boynton Beach, FL