2. Verne Cocktail Club
Neighborhood: Palermo, Avenida Medrano 1475
Federico Cuco is the owner of this whimsical and warmhearted bar, which is named after the author Jules Verne. He is a veteran bartender and an amateur cocktail historian. Mr. Cuco can serve you one of his house originals, such as the smoky Opium Old-Fashioned, or he can tell you about Buenos Aires’ rich mixological history, which includes mid-20th-century bartender celebrities like Santiago Policastro. Known as “Pichin,” Policastro cut a big enough figure to appear on television and publish a book, “Tragos Magicos” (or “Magical Drinks”). Mr. Cuco was behind a campaign a decade ago to “Save the Clarito,” the Clarito being a forgotten dry Martini riff by Pichin. It worked. You can order a Clarito anywhere in the city now. (The chief difference between the original Clarito and a Martini was a sugar rim. That touch, gratefully, has since been dropped.)
If you ask for other historical Buenos Aires cocktails, there’s a good chance Mr. Cuco will know how to make them. He is also a big advocate of local heritage brands like Amargo Obrero, a mild regional amaro, and Hesperidina, an orange liqueur that, in 1876, became Argentina’s first patented product. Oddly enough, Hesperidina was created by Melville Sewell Bagley, an immigrant from Maine.
3. Florería Atlántico
Neighborhood: Recoleta. Arroyo 872
Florería Atlántico is Buenos Aires’ most famous cocktail bar, a reputation it may have secured solely through the energies of its owner, Tato Giovannoni, a charismatic man who knows how to fill up a room. He also knows how to paint up a room; the pictures of sea monsters on the walls are his. Mr. Giovannoni describes his bar as being a tribute to the multiethnic history of the city’s population. Fittingly, the menu is divided by national influence, with sections dedicated to Spain (sherry drinks), Poland (vodka) and England (gin, Scotch). The bar’s signature drink is, naturally, a Negroni variation, but the dizzyingly complex Balestrini Negroni tells a distinctly Argentinian story. The Campari is locally distilled. The gin, Principe de los Apóstoles, is the creation of Mr. Giovannoni, boasting botanicals such as yerbe mate and eucalyptus. Averna amaro replaces the usual vermouth. And a dash of seawater from the actual Atlantic Ocean provides a saline accent. (The bar is called Atlantico, after all.) This is all infused with eucalyptus smoke and garnished with pine nuts. The eucalyptus branches could conceivably have been fetched from the flower shop upstairs, which serves as a false front for the bar.