Tucked into an unsuspecting nook on Sparks Street near Metcalfe, you’ll find a sexy and austere 21-seat cocktail bar that may remind you of award-winning watering holes in more metropolitan destinations like Montreal or New York. That similarity is very much by design: Tang and co-owners Mike Campbell and Adam Ghor drew inspiration from some of their favourite haunts like Cloakroom in Montreal. Always open until 2 a.m., Stolen Goods is one of the few available destinations for late-night libations.
Tang has been in the business for six years. He first discovered a passion for craft cocktails while barbacking at Mati, and expanded on the tricks of the trade he learned there through independent study. Dave Arnold’s book Liquid Intelligence was a seminal text. The author’s scientific approach to cocktails and use of advanced technique subverted diners’ expectations of flavour. “When you think of food,” says Tang, “there’s a textural component, a bite to it. But if you can turn that flavour into liquid form, that’s a different sensory experience.”
After reading Arnold’s book, Tang began to dream up spirited takes on savoury dishes. There are a couple of direct nods to food in the 18 or so cocktails found on the Stolen Goods menu. Their opening menu featured a high-concept cocktail called the “Three Brothers,” inspired by Ottawa’s favourite late-night snack, shawarma. To translate that uniquely potent blend of garlic and spices into cocktail form, Tang performed a garlic fat wash on gin — an old perfumer’s technique of infusing something oily into alcohol —and balanced that intense flavour with pickled beet and turnip juices, lime, and simple syrup. “It confuses you, it makes you think,” says Tang. “The garlic gin is pretty bad on its own but when combined with the other ingredients, it really works.”
When asked what he hopes departing guests would say, he responds simply, “It’s the best cocktail bar in the city, by far.”
106 Sparks St., StolenGoodsCocktailBar.com