Last night, The Beaver and I stopped for drinks at the worst bar in Atlanta. After reading a glowing review of Pura Vida in Creative Loafing, I went in with high expectations. The Loaf mentioned Pura Vida served obscure South American cocktails, such as Pisco Sours and Caipirinhas made in the proper way with fresh lemon juice and limes. The Loaf failed to mention the poor execution of the bartenders.
I started with the Pisco Sour, which was at least drinkable. A heavy hand with the lemon juice and simple syrup completely overwhelmed the Pisco (an unaged, high-proof brandy distilled from muscatel grapes in Chile and Peru, similar to Grappa), resulting in a drink that tasted like a lemon drop. I assume the overzealous use of juice and syrup was encouraged by a management afraid of candy-ass Atlantans complaining about the unrefined fieriness of the South American brandy.
Next, after noticing that the bartender had the appropriate tool (a muddler) to make a Caipirinha and actual Cachaca (an unaged Brazilian brandy made from sugar cane), I sampled one. Bad idea. The bartender only used two lime wheels instead of a whole lime and did not stir the drink. The result was basically straight Cachaca, which tastes like lighter fluid. Not being a quick learner, I then ordered a Mojito. Surprisingly, this drink was actually passable, but mediocre. Stick to beer at Pura Vida, they can’t mess that up.