Soon Union Square will offer imbibers a new bar to sidle up to.  The folks behind the Journeyman are creating a cocktail bar behind their establishment appropriately called backbar.  I recently sat down with bar manager (and my favorite bartender), Sam Treadway to chat about his plans for the bar.

When Sam left Drink a little over a year ago many Boston imbibers were quite disappointed.  But after a year at the Waikiki Edition in Hawaii, we happily welcome him back and are excited about what he’s creating at backbar.  As with many of his previous jobs, Sam credits this current opportunity in part to his friend Ben Sandroff (his talent obviously had something to do with it as well) who connected him with the folks at Journeyman.  While paradise was a nice place to live, the opportunity to open a brand new bar, as well as his familial and friend connections brought him back east.

Having spent many hours across the bar from Sam, I know first-hand the value he places on hospitality.  He credits his first bartending gig at a local tavern in Northfield, Minnesota with instilling this value in him.  Back in those days he wasn’t mixing Sazeracs (speaking of which, he admitted that the first time he sipped a Sazerac he hated it; his palette just wasn’t quite ready yet) or serving up cocktails with infused syrups and bitters; he was pouring beers and whiskey for his regulars.  It wasn’t what was in the glass that had an impact, but rather the relationships he developed with his regulars.  And that’s the kind of environment he wants to cultivate at backbar—one where every customer, regular or not, feels like they are being welcomed into a friend’s home.  Simply put, he says, “I’m creating the bar that I would want to go to.”

This is Treadway’s first foray into starting a bar from the ground up.  While some aspects like formulating his cocktail menu, visiting antique shops for décor, and picking out glassware engage his creativity, others, like design of the bar space, take him outside his comfort zone.  But both seem to be a welcome challenge for the 27 year old who is excited about the opportunity to not only create yummy cocktails, but also be the vision behind the place.

And what about the drinks?  Since his days pouring draughts in Minnesota and that first unappealing Sazerac, Sam has come to appreciate both the simplicity and complexity of mixing drinks.   To that end, the menu will organized into four sections—classics (his opportunity to “recreate history in a glass”), new creations (a place to experiment with ingredients and techniques), specials/seasonal (following suit with the Journeyman’s approach in the kitchen) and “the tradesman.”  This final section will feature what bartenders like to drink when they are out.  To this end, I learned that Sam prefers beer (something light and drinkable like Blue Moon), a gin & tonic, or straight whiskey.  Since I have enjoyed countless cocktails made by Treadway, I have no doubt the menu will be fantastic.

I have it on good authority that backbar will open very, very soon.  See you there. Cheers!

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