The newest addition to Somerville debuted over the weekend at Bow Market in Union Square, and it’s full of art and draft cocktails. Create Gallery & Cocktail Lounge is now open, a permanent manifestation of Boston chef Louis DiBiccari’s annual Create event, which showcases local chefs, bartenders, artists, and musicians.
The bar is a bit of an art project itself, a rotating collage of local talent in several disciplines. As the back of the menu says: “We don’t make the drinks. We don’t make the art. We don’t make the music. We represent all the people that do. This is our little corner of the world to celebrate life.”
It’s DiBiccari’s first permanent project since closing his Fort Point restaurant, Tavern Road, two years ago, but parts of Tavern Road live on at Create, including an eye-catching painting of Tavern Road’s last night by Adam J. O’Day. Beloved late Boston bartenders Ryan McGrale and Tenzin Conechok Samdo, who each spent time leading the bar at Tavern Road, are honored, too: McGrale’s “down n’ brown” cocktail is a permanent fixture on the menu, and a quote from Samdo hangs on the wall, lettered by Kenji Nakayama.
Here’s the breakdown on the different parts of Create:
The drinks: Create Gallery & Cocktail Lounge’s drink menu centers around eight draft cocktails made using recipes from local bartenders. At Tavern Road, McGrale used to feature “cocktails from friends,” and it got DiBiccari thinking, “What if the whole [Create] menu was that?” he told Eater.
The opening list — it’ll rotate a bit throughout the year — includes, for example, “no egrets” by Kate Belanger of Chickadee, made with Scapegrace gin, Kleos mastiha, green apple Dolin Blanc, and mint; “picture hook spritz” by Ryan Lotz of Shore Leave and its sibling restaurants, made with Campari, Carpano Bianco, grapefruit juice, grenadine, and cava; and more. Since they’re on draft, they’re quick to serve (and consistent).
The Create staff — including bar manager Ryan Kelly, a Tavern Road alum — will also make a few simple mixed drinks upon request, and there’s a small selection of beer, cider, and wine.
The food: Like the other bars at Bow Market, Create welcomes customers to bring in food from other Bow Market vendors, such as empanadas from Buenas, roast beef sandwiches or pizza from Hot Box, vegetarian poutine from Saus, and more. (An important note: Customers can’t currently take drinks out of Create, except on specifically designated event days where Bow Market’s liquor license temporarily covers the entire compound. On normal days, for now, drinks need to stay inside their designated areas.)
The art: Like the drinks, it’ll rotate; it will also be for sale — and not just the pieces hanging up on the walls but prints of them as well. The current lineup includes works by Markus Sebastiano, Samurai White, and more.
Create is really “an art gallery first,” over a bar, DiBiccari told Eater. When he started his Create event series in 2013, it was meant to provide a larger platform for artists in the city, and Create Gallery & Cocktail Lounge is a means to do that seven nights a week instead of once a year.
The space: It’s on the cozy side, like other Bow Market businesses, but there’s plenty of room for several patrons around the standing bar and a few seated groups on benches and low stools. Look for Create on the second level — don’t ignore Bow Market’s second level! — on the far right, above Rebel Rebel. (While most of Bow’s food and drink vendors are downstairs, with retail vendors upstairs, Create joins another cocktail bar — Variety, part of the Comedy Studio — on the second floor.)
To start, Create is open 5:30 p.m. through midnight daily (1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights), and DiBiccari plans to continue putting on his annual Create mega-events as well, so stay tuned for details on the next one.