Pop the Cork
Luxury accessories for the serious wine lover in your life.
A drink from The Strangers Club in Panama City.
WHEN BRATISLAV GLISIC and his partners decided to open a cocktail bar in Panama City, Panama, they faced two problems: none of them were yet fluent in Spanish and none of them had previously anticipated leaving New York City. But the locale was perfect: Casco Viejo, a historic district and tourist hotspot in Panama City. The neighborhood lacked a world-class cocktail bar and they had the expertise, having worked together at some of New York’s top cocktail bars like Employees Only.
It was a tempting idea, one they mulled over for two years until one of them grew impatient. “And my partner, Ivan, he's like, ‘Listen, I'm going to buy us tickets for tomorrow and we're going,’” remembers Glisic. “So he booked the tickets overnight. We went there and saw like three places that day. We chose this one, we put in the offer, and went back to New York. Once we landed, they accepted our offer.”
Passion fruit is an ideal cocktail ingredient: the fruit itself is so tender that you only need a sieve and a spoon to extract the juice.
Glisic and his partners still live in New York but make frequent trips to Panama City. Running a bar in this way — from another country, several thousand miles away — requires work and a lot of help from new friends. The Strangers Club's name reflects the sense that Glisic and company are newcomers to the city, and also the role that relative strangers played in the bar’s success.
Angie is a drink inspired and designed by these new friends. It’s named Angie for a local bartender who supported The Strangers Club during a pre-launch pop-up event. Passion fruit became its main ingredient after he saw his daily cafe spot get their fruit delivery. He asked the owner about the fruit, and she offered Glisic one, cutting it in half and serving it to him alongside a saucer of sugar. (The fleshy middle has a tart bite — you can tame it a bit by sprinkling sugar on the fruit before scraping it out of its shell.) “I tried and right away was like, ‘Oh God, this can be perfect for a cocktail,’” he remembers.
Passion fruit is an ideal cocktail ingredient: the fruit itself is so tender that you only need a sieve and a spoon to extract the juice. And its already-tangy flavor naturally works well with sours. Glisic says you can use the garnish — a little matcha powder on top of the cocktail’s foam — as a latte-art-like canvas to write a little message.
While the Angie cocktail was The Strangers Club’s most popular drink, you'll need to wait a bit before you can order it there. The partners had to close their bar during the pandemic, as managing from across the continent was difficult. Glisic says they are considering moving the bar to another neighborhood in Panama City, or to a U.S. city like Miami — just somewhere The Strangers Club can feel welcome again.
Jessica Suarez is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.
Grant Cornett is a photographer and director based in upstate New York. He likes to take pictures of pristine detritus and austere moments.
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