Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on September 15, 2023.
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We always love it when several brands collaborate for something greater than the sum of the parts. Unspeakable does just that with Vietnamese influences from Ineffable Ca Phe and select spirits from Noire Distillery next door, all with a speakeasy vibe.
A cocktail bar with Asian elements, local spirits, and well-executed drinks? We're in for this combo!
Asian Flavors Abound at Unspeakable
We first visited Unspeakable shortly after it opened and honestly did not know what to expect. All we knew was that we were looking for a speakeasy at Ineffable Ca Phe in Lawrenceville, and that was the only direction we had received.
Suffice it to say, we're not going to tell you where this one is exactly, but we will say you won't have to search very long before you find yourself in a cozy seat with menu in hand.
We were fortunate enough to try four cocktails during our first visit, including Sesame Haze, Atomic Sky, 50 Shades of Phat, and Nightmare Fuel.
Sesame Haze reminded us a lot of an Old Fashioned and included sesame-infused rye whiskey, honey, house-made orange bitters, and Angostura. I have to admit I was a bit hesitant on just how the sesame would work as sesame oil is quite the intense product, but it was infused beautifully right at the balance of being the prominent flavor without being overpowering- to our sesame-loving palate, at least.
The Atomic Sky was perhaps our favorite cocktail of the night and includes Noire Distillery's Ban Ruou gin (gin made with lemongrass and other Vietnamese herbs), poppy seeds, lemon, and an egg white. This one was a bit of a riff off of a gin sour but came with subtle Asian flavors in the form of the herbs in the gin and the poppy seeds. This one was not nearly as intense flavor-wise compared to Sesame Haze, but simply worked for just how well balanced it was.
50 Shades of Phat is another more intensely flavored cocktail that used Noire Distillery's vodka with yogurt-flavored soju, mango, lime, and ginger beer served mule style. Upon the first few sips, this one drank like a well made mule, with the lime and ginger being the dominant flavors. But as you drank more and more, the subtle creaminess of the yogurt flavored soju came out that had almost a textural component to it as much as a nuanced flavor.
Nightmare Fuel was our final cocktail and featured bourbon, rum, campari, Averna, sweet vermouth, and housemade orange bitters and reminded us of a conventional Boulevardier through and through- albeit with a tish more sweetness from the addition of the rum as a base spirit. Admittedly, this was the only cocktail of the night which did not have any traditional Asian-forward flavors as noted in the other cocktails, but was a refreshing take on a classic cocktail to round things out all the same- even if we likely would have appreciated more Asian elements to go with the theme.
Finally, as we spent some time talking with the bartender, we got to be guinea pigs to try out a sample of the Ca Phe Martini that was in the works, which merged the flavors of Ineffable's delicious Vietnamese coffee sweetened with condensed milk and an espresso martini. Although we cannot say whether the final product which made the menu is identical to the sampling that we tried, the little teaser we got to try really made us think we were drinking that classic iced Vietnamese coffee (including a lovely thickness and heavy body) all with a shot of alcohol in it. Delightful!
Overall, we absolutely love seeing bars engaging in such fun collaborations the way Unspeakable, Ineffable Ca Phe, and Noire Distillery are in this space. But, as this one was still quite new during our initial visit, we are also looking forward to seeing how this one grows with new cocktails, rumored food, and so much more!
But, because this one is a speakeasy and is designed to be a gorgeous space just as much as a delicious bar, don't forget to check out the upstairs seating area during a visit, too- the cozy ambiance is perfect!
Unspeakable is a speakeasy cocktail bar concept found at Ineffable Ca Phe at 3920 Penn Avenue in Lawrenceville. Hours and more can be found on their Instagram page as the bar has different operating times than the restaurant. The entrance to the bar is, of course, up for you to discover.