Cinco Lounge, a Peruvian inspired concept, is a new lounge in Achrafieh. During the opening, we were taken on a mesmerizing journey by savoring the delicious cuisine, tasting the trendy Pisco brandy available exclusively in Lebanon at Cinco Lounge, as well as enjoyed the to the inspirational story behind the new venue. Located in Beirut's Sofil Center, Cinco Lounge brings together various elements from exotic traditions, and blends them harmoniously with international culture. In essence, it is a place for people to mingle after work and meet one another, by sharing good food and delightful cocktails. The name ‘Cinco’ is derived from the Spanish word for ‘5’. ‘Cinco’ also describes that every fifth person to enter the Lounge will get the Pisco Contagion. The place:
- The venue offers an assortment of seating arrangements, from a long bar area, high tables and stools, sharing tables, a more formal dinner setting, as well as lounges
- The positive atmosphere of the venue is coupled with a non-commercial repertoire including Indie, new disco, alternative and deep house music
- Under a low ceiling, dark yet warm ambiance, this lounge is where food comes to accompany the drinks
To be honest, I wasn't expecting to like the food that much... The international menu at Cinco Lounge offers a variety of flavorsome dishes from across the globe, guaranteed to satisfy any palate. From delicacies hailing from the French kitchen, tidbits from Asian culture, and of course the soulful Peruvian cuisine, from quinoa to ceviche and succulent Peruvian beef and shrimp. Food offered for the opening: Salads:
- Goat Cheese Salad: A classic starter at many French bistros, combining mixed lettuce, goat cheese spread on a country bread, mixed dry fruit, and a special house sauce. Where a slice of endive is covered with a goat cheese mix on a spongy bread and served with orange marmalade. This is an interesting salad in a bite.
- Smoked Tuna Salad: Full of flavor, with smoky tones of tuna, complemented by the fresh zing of ginger and sesame sauce, and mixed lettuce. Served in a porcelain spoon, this salad has an interesting peppery aftertaste you will enjoy
- Marinated Salmon: A luxurious starter to any feast: salmon, avocado, spring onion, and rice paper, in a creamy sauce. Interesting indeed: Plunge into this small cup filled with rich marinated salmon, juicy avocado and crunchy chips
- Vegetarian Spring Rolls: Rolled up bites of heaven, with rice paper, carrots, cucumbers, mint, coriander, vermicelli noodles, and sweet chili sauce. The rolls are presented with a plastic decorative fork in the middle. Dip it in the sweet and sour sauce and enjoy.
- Gyoza Veggie: Enjoy this variation of the standard dumpling made with shiitake mushrooms, spring onion, cabbage; made extra special with ponzu sauce. Something that looks like a sambousik has a golden fresh non oily color, is crunchy from the outside and is rich in flavors from the inside. I loved how its served in its sauce
- Beef Carpaccio: Beef filet, mixed salad, olive oil, and a titillating sauce of foie gras. I enjoyed the added hint of salt and rocket leaf mixing taste and finesse at the same time
- Chicken Rock: An enticing starter made with marinated chicken, spring onion, and sesame seeds. I fell in love with this preparation... Its crunchiness and spicy aftertaste. Lovely!
- Shrimp Halloumi Rolls: You won’t believe how good this combination of shrimp, halloumi cheese, avocado, and tartare sauce tastes. A tasty halloumi maki as I like to call it. Soft inside, non salty halloumi and the known crunchy cover outside to make all the difference
- Shrimp Skewers: This is a must-try dish: just dip the breaded shrimp in the delicious veggie sauce for a savory treat. An interesting sting lemony taste takes over
- Himalayan Grilled Beef Striploin: For the beef-lover, a mouthwatering dish with beef stripling grilled to perfection, and teppanyaki vegetables. That's a ritual to try for sure. A premium piece of meat, cut in sliced and served on a rock with a blue flame to keep it hot. A nice juicy and tender meat served with sesame soy sauce. To add more flavors and complete your spiritual tasting, some hot grilled Asian style vegetables separate the meat from the rock keeping them hot without over cooking them
- Cinco's Burger: Served in two halves, a soft and tender brioche bread melts under your teeth like butter while adding a slight sweetness to the mix. Covering it is a concentrated mix of sesame to add more richness. Inside is a white homemade sauce, lettuce, tender adequately cooked piece of ground beef and a sweet aftertaste provided by the caramelized onions to make you smile. The textures of this small bite are so nice and the taste so good that I hoped it was bigger.
- Cinco Shots: Ashta, Chocolat mow, Cheese cake, Tiramisu, mocha, rose water
The Pisco Drink:
- Pisco, the national drink of Peru can be compared to Arak in Lebanon
- Pisco is a colorless or yellowish-to-amber colored grape brandy produced in wine-making regions of Peru
- The Pisco is imported directly from Peru and produced by "Bodega Santa Maria"
- The drink is strong with a 42% alcohol level, better not to be drunk alone
- It's alcohol strength covers on the mixed ingredients, this is why some sweetness and sugar are needed to neutralize it
As soon as I reached, I went to the bar and asked for five empty glasses. Everyone was drinking around without trying to understand what's behind this concept or the the drink that constitutes it. So I stood in front of the cocktail bar for a tasting session. "Pisco" Opening Menu:
- Pisco Sour: The national drink of Peru. Try it, and see why a whole country is a fan. Made with Pisco, simple syrup, lime juice, and egg white. This drink is served in a copper cup. How majestic indeed: Clean, clear and good. I preferred it to all the other mixes below
- Pisco Punch: The first Pisco cocktail ever made! Enjoy it with pineapple juice, lime juice, fresh pineapple and muddled cloves. Fresh pineapple and strawberry bits, creating an orange color. This drink has a kind of neutral smell where the fruits neutralize each others. Interesting textures of the cloves
- Piscojito: Say goodbye to good ole mojito and hello to this version for the connoisseurs! Made with Pisco, lime juice, lime, Perrier, simple syrup, and fresh mint.
- Apasionado: Apasionado means passionate, and this cocktail is a perfect representative. Enjoy a torrent of flavors with Pisco, Grand Marnier, passion fruit, lime juice, and a jolt of fresh mango. This cocktail has rich aromatic smells and an interesting orange color. Mangos take over with a texture different from all the other drinks, where the fresh mango fruits are felt under your tongue
- Kiwina: No cocktail menu is complete without everyone's favorite exotic fruit, kiwi. Try it in the combination of Pisco, kiwi pulp, and homemade lemonade. A green color, kiwi with kiwi textures felt clearly. This drink has a harder feel exactly like a mixed fruit cocktail
- Mueve Tu Cucu: It can't get fresher than this! Enjoy the cool effects of Pisco, simple syrup, lime juice, strained cucumber, and Peach Schnapps. A green colored drink, cucumber aroma, strong alcohol flavor with a peach sweetness and cucumber aftertaste.
- Cinco De Uvas: As exciting as an aphrodisiac, this combination of Pisco, white Wine, grapes, and fresh lime is simply… yummy! That was my favorite drink tonight, where white wine is clearly felt followed by crunching into the yellow grapes. The drink's color is light green with a clear transparent feel.
- Pisco Cinco Beer
This is the story behind discovering Pisco and the establishment of Cinco Lounge, Beirut: In March of 2013, the two sisters Yasmina and Elissa, traveled to Peru for one month, in order to volunteer and teach English to orphans. As they roamed the streets of the country and took in the sights and sounds, the heritage and diverse Peruvian cuisine, they came across the Pisco drink. Upon to returning to Beirut after their one month mission, they were keen to share their experiences with family and friends, expressing their excitement for all they saw, tasted and felt. And so, together, along with Joy Azoury, managing partner of Maillon Group and Jessica Azoury, his sister, they decided that the best way for others to truly experience the sights and sounds of Peru was through Cinco Lounge. I enjoyed my time and will surely be coming back to indulge in their rich menu varieties.