Tucked below the legendary Le Bec-Fin on Walnut Street rests owner Georges Perrier’s latest venture: Tryst. Marketed as a sexy and sleek cocktail lounge, Tryst is going to sink or swim at the hands of manager and lead mixologist, Erik Lombardo. “We really want Tryst to be accessible,” Lombardo tells me as the lounge is abuzz with activity. “We aim to serve high-end cocktails with the food to match.”
An Ivy League graduate, Lombardo found his calling in the food industry when he arrived to Philadelphia from New York 3 years ago. “I had planned to be a doctor,” he says. “But Le Bec Fin showed me that I could turn a passion into a career.” And a career it has become. Starting initially as a captain in the dining room, Lombardo was tapped by Chef Perrier to take the lead in the launching of Tryst. When asked to compare the atmosphere of Tryst with that of Le Bec-Fin, “Decidedly more relaxed,” He says. “You will not feel intimidated when you come to Tryst. We are a cocktail lounge that happens to serve food – really good food.”
Lombardo’s awareness of atmosphere marketing is critical. During its 40 year history in Philadelphia, Le Bec-Fin has developed the kind of upper-echelon reputation that might discourage the average young professional from becoming a patron. Tryst, it would seem, is the response. With Lombardo at the helm, Tryst is aimed at attracting a younger, ‘sexier’ crowd.
The decor reflects this approach. Sleek furniture arranged around an illuminated bar top provides a modern feel. And with the subtle, electro lounge music providing a pulsating tempo, Tryst is most certainly not a white glove affair.
With a cocktail list that is priced to entice a variety of customers, Tryst has paid careful attention to its drink menu. “The average consumer knows so much more about food then they used too,” Lomardo tells me as I am sampling one of their signature cocktails. “We expect to host people who are looking to enjoy the wine and spirit trend that we are currently seeing.”
There is no doubting Lombardo’s sincerity and desire to see Tryst succeed. He has single handedly overseen the selection of its cocktail menu. “One of the most important things to a creating a cocktail is to remain true to the ingredients,” he tells me while describing their signature ‘Sazerac’ cocktail. “If you are just changing a drink for the sake of changing it, you’re doing the spirits a disservice.”
Lombardo is committed to creating an environment that will not intimidate. “Ultimately, I’m a bartender. This is the service industry and I am here to make you feel comfortable.” However, do not expect Tryst to cut corners with regard to quality. Lombardo is currently aging Negroni in a 3 gallon whiskey barrel that he purchased from a distiller in New York. “I am committed to creating a cocktail experience that will get people talking.”
The Tryst menu.
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