Marco Polo – The Punch Room – Charlotte, NC

October 18, 2016

I had such a great experience at the Punch Room that I am reviewing another drink from my visit last weekend. If you haven’t already read about the Sour in Spanish Harlem, I’d suggest you take a detour to that review first as it sets the scene of the beautifully-appointed Punch Room and the service I received there.

After finishing my first cocktail, I was in for a little treat before the mixologist created my “official” next cocktail. He grabbed a tall coupe glass and headed for the tap. I shot him a skeptical look once a lemonade-colored liquid starting coming out. He responded with a look that said “just wait” and started shaking what looked like a whipped cream canister. He promptly started spraying what did actually look like whipped cream onto the top of the drink. He placed the dessert-looking beverage in front of me and said simply “Try This”.

I took a huge first gulp and came away with some foam on my nose. I had no words – this concoction was downright delicious! I begged for an explanation and received this: “You’re drinking a Pisco Sour. But we do it differently. We have pisco on tap, and we top it with a St. Germain foam. That’s right – there’s booze in that foam” It was like I was drinking an alcoholic cupcake. This drink was sweet, a little tangy, and absolutely amazing, and it wasn’t even the main event!

Pisco Sour on Tap

It turns out that Bob – the mixologist – needed to distract me while he got to work on the aforementioned main event. I saw him pouring and mixing from half a dozen different bottles and containers, which was a little nerve-wracking as you don’t want to be drinking a muddled mess. But after many minutes of tinkering, I was presented with the Marco Polo:

Marco Polo

Unsurprisingly, this cocktail was named for the famous explorer who traveled the Silk Road from Italy to Asia. Bob combined these Italian & Asian influences by mixing 80-proof Italian amaro, cointreau, and raspberry syrup over a base of sparkling Japanese sake. All propped up high next to a brandied cherry out to the side. As usual when trying a drink, I don’t let the ingredients form my opinion, I let my palate decide if a drink is good or not. My palate told me quickly: this was a damn good one.

It was strong, sweet, a little bitter, and a little bubbly. There were a lot of competing flavors in the glass, but it worked. This was just begging to be called a digestif, and was totally unique, but that’s exactly what I was looking for!

Fortunately for me, but unfortunately for you, reader, that was not the final cocktail of the evening! Bob continued to ply me with his concoctions and I had an up close and personal view as he created drinks using fire, foam, and kitchen tools, too.

My marathon of a night at the Punch Room will not be soon forgotten, and I can strongly recommend the first (and last) place you should choose to grab a cocktail in Charlotte.

Visit
The Punch Room
201 East Trade Street
Charlotte, NC
ritzcarlton.com

The Marco Polo

Head Mixologist, Bob

The Punch Room

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