The cocktails feature a host of homemade syrups and shrubs (vinegar and fruit based infusions) that bar manager Stella Davies makes in house, like in the Blade Runner ($11, Blade Gin, chile, honey, apple cider vinegar shrub, preserved meyer lemon) and in the Madam Azáfran ($6, Nardini Amaro, Dolin Blanc, saffron syrup, club soda, orange).
Perhaps I was still under the fragrant seduction the patisserie next door had cast, but it was the Rosa The Beautiful ($11, Revolucion 100-proof Silver Tequila, strawberry-rose-habañero shrub, sparkling wine, mezcal, All Star Organics dried strawberry) that stole my heart. The cocktail has interesting layers of flavors that drink like a deep conversation or a story. Progressing from smoky to fruity and flowery, ending with lingering spice it make sense that Davies got the name from a character in Isabel Allende's The House Of The Spirits.
Though Rosa's fate in the book isn't good, ours was. Just catching the tail end of the restaurant's impressive happy hour*, the crisp Yucca & Cheese Fritters ($4) and a duo of Prather Ranch Mini-Burger with guasacaca sauce ($5.50) made for a happy ending.
Bocanova, 55 Webster (at Jack London Square), Oakland, (510) 444-1233
*Happy hour: Monday-Saturday 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. with an additional late-night session Thursday-Saturday 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. with five $5 cocktails and small bites (called Boca Bites, $3-$5.50)