WALTHAM — Moody’s Delicatessen & Provisions, having served this city with its expertly cured meats, artisan sandwiches, and miscellaneous charcuterie, expanded its operation several months ago to what is called The Backroom. An attached dining room with an open layout that evokes the memorable parts of the store-front, with meats hanging at the bar, large industrial slicers center stage behind the bar, and a wood fire oven adding to the warm welcome. The bar, which wraps around the entirety of The Backroom, is commanded by the wonder team of Wesley Krell, beverage director, and Ana Borras, head bartender. Krell, a Johnson & Wales graduate schooled in spirits and wine, says the best part of The Backroom experience is the sharing among strangers exploring their menus and the resultant communal dining bliss. But as much as the clientele of a bar is essential to finding its footing, the heart of this bar is its team of two. Borras, a molecular biologist by training, brings a sense of cohesion and imagination to the flavors in the Backroom’s craft cocktails. House-made ingredients share elements with the kitchen, such as smoked cherries, spice blends, and house cordials — with “nothing being made for the sake of making it, just to say that we can,” Krell says. As the two even out the flow at the bar, working, shaking, and pouring as a unit, it allows a customer time to take in the surroundings, such as the extensive whiskey and premium tequila collection of over 50 and 20 varieties, respectively, or the huge wine selection that wraps around the entire bar, catering to all palates. A highlight of The Backroom’s cocktail menu is the Cranberry Sour, a modestly named tipple with a not-so-modest flavor, a mix of tartness from cranberries, spiced sweetness from star anise syrup, and an excellent choice of premium pisco as its base spirit, delivered under a silky texture of added egg white. This is ideal seasonal variation to the classic Pisco Sour to go with those excellent “Never the Same Wagyu Meatballs” on the menu.
Makes 1 cocktail
1 tablespoon of hot water
1 tablespoon of sugar
½ teaspoon of crushed star anise
1½ ounces of pisco
1 ounce of quality cranberry juice
1½ tablespoons of lemon juice
1 egg white
1 star anise seed for garnish
1. In a small mixing bowl, add the water, sugar, and crushed star anise, stirring well to incorporate the ingredients.
2. Once the sugar is diluted, set aside, allow to cool and strain out the bits of anise.
3. In a cocktail shaker, add the pisco, cranberry juice, lemon juice, star anise syrup, and an egg white. Shake well without any ice at first.
4. Add ice to the cocktail shaker and shake a second time, this time diluting and chilling the drink.
Adapted from The Backroom at Moody’s in Waltham.