It’s official! Jonathan Franco of La Bodega 47 has earned the title of Best Uptown Bartender. He impressed a panel of judges with an eye for flair and a discerning palate for flavor with his on-the-spot concoction of Hennessy and yuzu fruit. The second annual Battle of the Bars invited neighborhood restaurants and bars throughout Harlem and Washington Heights to put their best bartender forward in a friendly competition. Out of 28 participants it was narrowed down to the final two this past Monday at Harlem Tavern. Sponsored by Hendrick’s gin, Hennessy cognac, and Uptown Magazine, the event was designed to spotlight the burgeoning uptown social scene. Congratulations to Jonathan, and La Bodega 47! So what do we know about one of Harlem’s newest night spots?
La Bodega 47 Social Club is a rum cocktail bar with an impressive selection of 47 rums from around the world. I was tempted to taste and found myself there two nights after Monday’s competition. It is a sexy little lounge located easily on the corner of 118 and Lenox Avenue. The perfect place for a rum aficionado or someone like myself who knows next to nothing about rum, but why not use that as an excuse to try something out of the ordinary? The menu is easy to navigate for one who wouldn’t know where to begin, yet appealing to those who already have an appreciation for rum. Each listing offers a geographical background complete with tasting notes, making it easy to get started with a little self-taught lesson in one of the worlds most complex distilled liquors. My brief experience with this libation is limited to the mojito, any version of a rum punch, or the classic cuba libre (really, who even says that, it’s a rum and coke!). However, After a few hours tucked away into this cozy spot I had seriously graduated to sipping aged rum with an air of sophistication, albeit I was probably just tipsy. Nevertheless I decided I had found a new favorite hideaway and I’m ready to declare a new hobby of drinking rum. I mean hey, it’s all about learning, right?! But seriously, the connection between rum, the Harlem speakeasy, and the prohibition era are just one more reason this place is a must visit. In recognition of what has been dubbed the Harlem restaurant renaissance this is a lounge that isn’t just a new local watering hole; it’s a nod to the way people used to congregate uptown and a celebration of global influence, while guests indulge in a unique experience.