In a neighborhood where it would seem almost impossible for a business to be hidden away, especially one that serves alcohol, the South Side cocktail bar known as Acacia is just that.
Ringing true to their speakeasy theme, this spot should be on your list of places to seek out in the city if you are in the mood for a superb drink.
If you can find it, that is.
Acacia Pittsburgh is a Legit Speakeasy
When I think of the term speakeasy, I think of a hidden bar that you would picture during the Prohibition Era. That is, one that you have no idea is there yet everyone seems to slip into without notice.
I can safely say that Acacia lives up to this thought, as I missed it when walking down Carson Street in the South Side- and I was seeking it out! The windows are boarded up, the glass of the doorway has newspaper behind it, and aside from the lights being on out front the only thing that would notify you to its location is a small logo on the door, as illustrated in the above photo.
Thankfully, I had Angie with me (who clearly pays more attention than I do), and she got us in just fine to check out their one and only specialty – cocktails.
In the Running for the Best Cocktails in Pittsburgh
During our visit to Acacia, we were fortunate enough to try four cocktails, although I would've gladly put my liver on the line to enjoy a few more as the frequently changing menu means we may never see these cocktails again.
The first was Hot Sharwood, a blend of overproof rum, apple brandy, and cream of coconut, toasted sesame, curry powder, and lime. This one falls under our category of sounds-too-weird-it-must-work, and true to our rule of thumb, it does. The drink had some relatively complex flavors, is tangy and creamy at the same time, and has a unique mouth feel due to the texture of the cream of coconut. Is it a boat drink? Or a classy cocktail? It is a bit of everything, and that's all you need to know.
Our second cocktail of the evening was La Revuelta, a spirit forward cocktail that is made with a Maggie's Farm Rum product of the same name (a personal favorite) plus an amaro, mint, and orange. A rum based Manhattan? Close enough for us.
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We then moved on to our next round which started off with the Bar Milk, a mix of Johnnie Walker Red, an amaro, barley, milk tea, and Goldenraisin. Think of it like a starchy scotch with a hint of sweetness from the raisin. The milk tea and barley does make this one have somewhat of an acquired taste to it though, so unless you enjoy those flavors (or think you might) then you may want to pass on this one, despite the fact that we found it delicious.
The only miss of the night was the Nori by Nature, a gin cocktail which included Genepy (an herbal liquor), a seaweed tincture, ginger, and lime.
Unfortunately, this cocktail was overpowered by the ginger to the point that it was almost unpalatable to me. I like the flavor of fresh ginger in my drinks, but only as an undertone and not when it is the primary (or in this case, only) flavor. I'm going to chalk this one up to the varying potency of fresh ginger, but even still it was simply way too much.
Overall, the one miss aside, Acacia in Pittsburgh's South Side is one of the finest cocktail bars in the city (something we've verified in many re-visits since publishing this review), and considering the fact that is hiding in plain sight makes the bar's speakeasy theme all the more appropriate.
We hope to be regulars here.
Acacia is located at 2108 E Carson Street in South Side. Acacia closed briefly in June 2018 and re-opened in August 2018.