STEPPING through the doors of Paladar is like a portal to another place - Havana, perhaps, or Buenos Aires, or Rio.
“A bar should transport you, for a little while at least,” says Andy Ferreira, the creative visionary behind it.
Hot on the heels of another award for Best Cocktail Bar in Ireland for Cask, the doors have opened on his latest venture, Paladar, Cork’s newest cocktail bar fizzing with the spirit of Latin American culture: drinks, food, music, art, community.
Andy admits being so caught up in Cask for the last five years, there wasn’t time to think about anything else. But that doesn’t mean ideas won’t percolate, bubbling to the surface when opportunity knocks.
Paladar is the latest reinvention of a space that has served many a hospitality master. When 6, Bridge Street, came back on the market for lease, Andy and Paladar co-owner Richard Evans jumped at the opportunity.
“It’s hard to get your hands on a nice sized bar in a good location, they get hoovered up pretty quick. I guess we put together a good proposal and having Cask on our CV didn’t hurt.”
Months of renovation followed, and the transformation is staggering. Beautifully designed and cosy pods bar-side open out into an airy, double-height space at the rear. New roof and side wall windows let in light, and handmade glass planters forged by Glanmire-based Eoin Turner Studio breathe life into the space. Walls are festooned with photography by a Buenos Aires based artist, and the sound system plays music to make you move.
“This idea of a Latin American-inspired bar is something I’ve toyed with for many years,” says Andy. “The first holiday my wife and I took was to Cuba for a month, and we fell in love with it and the drinks culture.
“Google 50 Best Restaurants in the World, a plethora are in Latin America: same with the best bars in the world. Mexico City is like the Berlin of Latin America, and Peru is doing amazing things in food and drink.”
“So, why not broaden things - that it’s not just about Cuba, but the whole region - and bring a little bit of that to Ireland?”
Latin America covers 33 different, diverse countries and cultures, from Mexico in North America, Central America, Caribbean and South American continent. Pitching the concept just right is something Andy is acutely aware of.
“I use the analogy of a couple of guys sitting in a bar in Nicaragua saying they’d love to open a European bar! So, I’m very conscious of just how broad that is.”
The name, Paladar, comes from the Cuban paladares, small home-style restaurants providing an authentic Cuban experience.
“It also comes from the Spanish for palate which I kind of like. You need a certain kind of confidence to call your bar and restaurant that, but so much of what we do is in the taste industry,” he says.
The cocktail and food menus reflect Andy’s passion for everything about Latin American culture, particularly the drinks. Indulge in a familiar classic cocktail - Mojito, Daiquiri, Margarita - or try something less well-known made with spirits new to Ireland - pisco, mescal, tequila.
“A category of spirits I adore is rum, I think it’s wonderful and so versatile. White rum, aged rum, blends, different styles of rum made primarily in the Caribbean, Guatemala and Venezuela. It’s a category that really excites me.”
“Then, in Mexico, there’s tequila and mescal [agave-based spirits]; and if we have rum and agave spirits, what about pisco from Peru and Chile?”
But is Cork ready for these new spirits and cocktails?
“Definitely. A big thing for me, I felt it we didn’t have any Latin Americans in here drinking it would feel a bit of a failure, but about a quarter of our clientele is from there. We only serve Latin American wine, Guatemalan coffee (roasted by Soma), only Latin American DJs; we’re really trying to be as authentic as we can.”
“Paladar is Latin America-inspired but we are in Cork! We’re not trying to be anything we’re not, but I still think you can have an authentic experience.”
Whereas Cask is all about showcasing Irish drinks in seasonally changing cocktails, Paladar is embracing citrus, tropical flavours and the national spirits of other countries. “It’s nice to go back using lime juice in a drink again,” says Andy, but the seasonally changing menus for food and drink is a feature that will be replicated in Paladar.
“The drinks on our menu are all classics but broken into two selections: Classics people know, and House Classics people might not know using Latin American spirits.
“We’re not trying to bombard our customers with weirdness! We want them to get familiar and enjoy the drinks, that’s the most important thing in any bar.”
Paladar’s drinks menu is created by Andy’s bar manager, Óisín Wolfe, who has experience in the drinks industry all over the world, as well as in Cask. Both food and cocktail menus will change monthly, with food designed to fit the drinks. Paladar has even been kitted out with a minilab where the team make their own inhouse syrups, bitters and infusions.
Andy is hoping for a busy Christmas season but adds: “I’m a big believer in learning to walk before you run, so everyday we’re just trying to get a bit better at what we do, more confident in our service, develop our menus and just finding our groove.
“Opening Paladar has been exciting - I’m a partner in Cask but I’m a co-owner here, that’s been a lovely experience. Ten years ago, I was a bartender doing consultancy, now I’m a co-owner in this beautiful building. Hospitality is a long-term game, you don’t get anywhere fast in this industry, you have to work incredibly hard and be incredibly committed. Do it for the love of hosting, of experience, and offering customers something different - it’s incredibly rewarding to see happy people in your bar.
“At the weekend, we turn it up here! I think it’s like Latin America - uninhibited, vibrant, loud, and just fun.”
Paladar is open 7-days a week, check www.paladar.ie for opening hours and reservation information (walk-ins always welcome).
Get your weekend started with a touch of Latin flavour by recreating two of Andy’s Paladar cocktails at home, a Pisco Sour Classic Cocktail and a Banana Clipper House Cocktail.
20ml lime juice
20ml sugar syrup
1. Dry shake all ingredients (without ice).
2. Add ice, shake vigorously again.
3. Double strain the mixture into a chilled coupe.
60ml Goslings Dark Rum
10ml White Cacao
10ml Banana Liqueur
10ml Demerara Syrup
1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and stir until chilled.
2. Serve over some nice ice in a rocks glass.
The owner of award-winning cocktail bar Cask tells KATE RYAN about his latest project - a new cocktail bar that taps into Latin American culture