Mother’s Ruin

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Whenever I walk through the blue threshold, I ask, what’s going to happen to me? What trouble am I getting into? For there was a point in time when my friends would advise, “Stay away from Mother’s Ruin.” But how can I?

Mother’s Ruin in the afternoon: sunlight streaming through the windows, the breeze drifting in from Spring Street. It’s busy, but that’s to be expected. It’s Saturday, and this is a local crowd; groups spill out onto the sidewalk, where all the outside seats are taken. I find Michelle in the crowd and we wait to order behind those sitting at the bar.

A letterboard menu frames the back bar: beers are listed down the left, along with the contents of the ever-circulating slushy machine (fact: this will hurt the morning after). Along the right-side of the back bar, the menu boats “Tequila, Tecate & PiCkLeBaCkS!” Then proceeds a list of seven specialty cocktails with clever names: Murray Hill Finance (vodka, lime, agave, soda), Mind Your Manners (rum, lemon, berries, soda), and Basik Bitches (rum, lemon, house-made ginger beer, apertivo float) among them.

Attracted to the elements of ginger, citrus and bitters (and hoping they will temper the onset of my allergies-or-cold) I go with the Arch Enemy (dark rum, lime, ginger, bitters). It’s fresh and lightly textured, balanced with that crisp citrus kick. It’s served in a tumbler, with a lime wedge, and goes down easy.

Michelle’s That’s Not A Toy is tequila, Aperol, vermouth and tasty, but we think maybe Mezcal would add complexity to an otherwise OK cocktail.

Although one of my long-time favorite bars, I haven’t previously considered Mother’s Ruin as a cocktail bar. It’s always been a setting for mischief, the drinks just being props (late night Negronis, midday gin on ice, Blue Points at dusk, whatever). It’s too busy to engage with barstaff about beverage theory and magic.

Next, I try Wait Your Turn (bourbon, lemon, cherry, fernet). The bourbon and lemon call to me like something for a sick person. It’s the fernet I really want. Again, in a rock’s glass, the things I like about bourbon are all there, with the fernet edging off the bourbon’s harshness. I don’t like cherry, but everything’s working together here; no one element stands out alone.

String lights, illuminated, surround the perimeter of the pressed tin ceiling. Noise ricochets off every surface, the wood tables, floors, metal stools. There’s soundproofing underneath the rail bar, I discover when searching for a coat hook. We shout over one another to hear. It’s a little bro-y and hipster and the crowd is average looking, and in good spirits.

“They do such a good job of being a little like a dive bar, and a little hipster, but not,” Michelle comments. Mother’s Ruin is of her own: inviting, casual without feeling like it, the sort of place where one can come dressed in evening wear or cut off shorts and cowboy boots, both being somehow acceptable. It says on their website, “Oh, and expect shit to get weird,” which adds validity to my insistence: there’s always something about this place.


We plan to come back here. A lot. Thanks to the variety of situations that occur here, we’re launching our Chronicles sidebar series, a homage to the best bars worth going back to, and the potions they provide.

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