It's around 5 p.m. on a Thursday at TRADE. There are a few people from all walks of life, dressed in anything from casual shorts and a tee to power suits, who are getting an early start on the evening. They're seated around the bar sipping cocktails, beer, and wine. The bar itself has an industrial feel, yet it's still airy and cozy at the same time. White and yellow colors make this restaurant bright and draws the light in from outside, even on this particularly rainy Boston day. Above the bar, little white lights float in glass bulbs, giving such a big space an intimate feel.
As the clock creeps closer to 5:30 p.m., the deep wooden tables that surround the bar are starting to fill in more with the after-work business crowd. Suits and business-casually dressed people are there to unwind and have fun. One of the big tables in the back that lines the wall is getting more and more populated by the minute as a group of young professionals trickle in one by one. They order a round of cocktails and make themselves at home. They're going to be here a while.
Tenzin Konchok Samdo, the head barman at TRADE, is showing off some of his cocktail skills to guests. They gather around him, watching him shake, stir, and add smoke, eye droppers full of precious enhancers, and even edible flowers to cocktails. His signature garnish, he proudly says as he grabs a cutting board to demonstrate it, is making a gun out of an orange peel in seconds. "I'm a very peaceful person," he explains with a sly look, "but when it comes to cocktails, I make a killer one."
Guests are watching him with the same sense of awe and anticipation as if he was a magician ready to do his next trick. He pulls a little square notepad out from behind the bar and explains to guests that for $10, you can have a specialty cocktail made for you. "Just check off the items on the sheet, and I make you a special cocktail." Guests have a choice of selecting components like smoky, savory, floral, and even choices like strange. He proceeds to make one cocktail that is served in a glass bowl over illuminated ice and adorned with baby strawberries and flowers. It's almost too pretty to drink.
As the clock gets closer to 6, three gentlemen all wearing Patriots jersey walk in and snag prime couch seating that is near the entryway of the restaurant. The bar is in full swing. The open oven that divides the dining room from the bar area is starting to really heat up now. The sun is setting and the light moves from bright to shadowy in a candlelit sort of way which only seems to add life to the bar. Flatbreads seem to be the thing to order, and they are flying out of the kitchen. The bartenders are moving fast behind the bar and it's getting loud in a joyful and boisterous kind of way. The dining room is starting to fill up, but the lounge area is where the party is.