Despite its speakeasy-like entrance tucked away inside Topa Financial Center, Bar Leather Apron is hardly a secret. Created by award-winning bartender Justin Park and Leather Soul shoe store owner Tom Park (no relation), the bar opened earlier this year to understandable hype — everyone was curious what Justin was up to since leaving his role as The Manifest’s bar manager.
The anticipation, it turns out, was warranted.
Inside, the bar seemingly erases decades, taking anyone who enters back to a time of classy music and cocktails. The dimly lit space is tiny, but that just adds to a cozy charm. I sat in the lounge, but bar seating comes with a bar-only menu featuring additional specialty cocktails — many of which have visual or interactive elements.
Open Monday-Friday from 4 p.m. to midnight and Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight, Bar Leather Apron specializes in whiskey and custom cocktails, though it stocks nearly every liquor you might be able to think of, making it a hit for any palate.
As soon as I sat down, I was given hot towels and a shot of cucumber basil soup to freshen up. After a little back and forth, I decided on the Daiquiri (pictured), a blend of Kohana Kea Rum, lime and sugar, but said “feel free to get creative.” I was blown away when our waiter returned with a custom daiquiri made just for me using the base drink, but with the addition of local passion fruit and edible flowers. The presentation and taste were unlike anything I had experienced before: It came with a full breakdown of ingredients from our server and an explanation of why the flavors work so well together, and the fruit was fresh.
For my second drink, I chose the Matcha Old Fashioned, a mix of Weller Antique 107, Japanese green tea, wasanbon sugar and mineral water. I didn’t know what to expect, truthfully, but I figured if there was a time to try something new, it was now! It turned out to be a nuanced drink with blended flavors — the initial taste was a crisp bourbon, with a natural tea aftertaste.
For my next visit (and there will be a next time), I plan to make a reservation so I can sit at the bar (walk-ins are accepted at the bar, too, space permitted) and experience some one-on-one time with the talented staff. Cheers!