I had the chance to attend a tasting at Fremont East newcomer Commonwealth last night and, though one could wax poetic forever about the flourishes and character of the joint (and oh, I will), it all boils down to one thing: This is a very worthy addition to the popular downtown bar district.
The place has a cool Boston pub vibe, combining lots of rustic and unfinished detailing with elegant notes: Exposed brick, bare rafters and re-purposed radiators are alongside chandeliers, finely upholstered seats and an elegant peacock statue located right behind the bar. All the beer taps are custom-made. Objects as varied leather-working hammers, table legs and antlers match the general scheme of the place, and aren’t too over-the-top or quirky.
Two staircases (by the entrance and near the back) take you up to Commonwealth’s killer feature: The rooftop bar.
This is the only open rooftop in the Fremont East district, with its own bar and a killer view overlooking Fremont and 6th streets. A cutout behind the bar also lets you take in Neonopolis and the Fremont Street Experience area. Since Commonwealth is right by Le Thai, the smell of delicious Thai food wafts upward toward the roof. Your stomach may grumble a little.
A selection of DJs (including established talent from Los Angeles and New York City) will make the rooftop their home soon, in a DJ booth area plastered with show posters of punk and hardcore bands of eras past – another cool mix-and-match for a place that’s seemingly made of those.
As for the drink selection, the range available includes a varied beer list, plenty of signature cocktails and, yes, even beer cocktails like the “Deliverance Wrap Party,” which mixes Pabst Blue Ribbon with bourbon whiskey and honey. It’s tasty.
Mixologist Juyoung Kang has put a lot of thought into the cocktail list, citing inspiration from various eras, some going as far back as the 1890s. Expect drinks inspired by the original versions of cocktails that we’re all too familiar with today: The pre-Vodka Cosmopolitan (using gin), the original daiquiri and others.
Keeping in line with that, the “bottle service” you’ll get at Commonwealth is instead a selection of cocktail punch bowls that you can enjoy on the rooftop seating.
Those are the kind of differences that make this place what it is. Commonwealth is a unique bar, but never quite devolves into excessively indulgent quirkiness. It could be easy for a place with offbeat details and strange, movie-inspired drink names to fall into the “trying too hard” trap, but the crew has really managed to pull everything together without making it feel gimmicky.
Give it a shot soon: Commonwealth’s grand opening is on Dec. 12, but they’re running a soft opening through then.