a cocktail bar in Tricase focuses on new cultural exploration, beginning with its name and its owners ...
Forget Tricase, forget Salento.
Farmacia Balboa is the viaticum for a journey to other places and other cultural adventures, a cocktail bar you might find in Milan, New York, London or Berlin. Its destiny, in any case, is in its name, which evokes the scrupulousness of a place dedicated to care (in this case the care of the soul), coupled with that of a Spanish explorer, Vasco Nunez de Balboa, who, on September 23rd, 1513, first saw the Pacific Ocean beyond the isthmus that separated it from the Atlantic Ocean. Just like Salento, a peninsula between the Ionian Sea and the Adriatic.
The enigma of the name ‘Farmacia’ (pharmacy) is easily explained. Francesco Winspeare had wanted to open a bar with his friend, Mauro Arena, for a long time. They planned to call it Caravan Café, and it was to be an enormous space set up in an industrial shed. But then the pharmacist in the town of Tricase moved away, and Mauro, a far-sighted entrepreneur, seized the opportunity to rent the pharmacy, which overlooked the town’s beautiful main square.
Piazza Pisanelli 21
He still did not know what he wanted to do, however, so for one year he rented the space without using it. Then, talking with Francesco Winspeare, the old project came up again, their common dream. Meanwhile, the idea caught the interest of film director Taylor Hackford (best known for ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’), the husband of award-winning actress Helen Mirren, who was so infatuated by such places that he bought a holiday home there with Helen. One winter evening in 2013 these three founded the company and on August 8th, 2014, Farmacia Balboa opened.
Here excellent cocktails are carefully prepared using only top-quality ingredients, fresh fruit juices and herbs grown in the area and bought at the local market. You may discover, in fact, that the pomegranate juice you are sipping comes from fruit grown on a nearby farm owned by Taylor and Helen (who have 1000 pomegranate trees). The cocktails, which are all served by waiters in white pharmacist’s coats, sport such spirited names (the famous "bevande spiritose" on the label) as ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ or ‘Helen's Hanky Panky’, dedicated to Helen Mirren, while the pregiati (fine) wines (also referred to on the label) come mainly from the Castel di Salve winery owned by Francesco Winspeare. Every Sunday features aperitifs from around the world, accompanied by dishes from different countries. There are also theme nights, with sets and costumes made especially, such as that dedicated to Studio 54 in New York, or the cultural synergies created with the Armonia literary festival and the prestigious Salento International Film Festival (SIFF).
"I just wanted to create a place where I would be happy to hang out myself, where I could meet with friends and listen to music", says Francesco Winspeare, who with "13 different nationalities in my blood" and after studying and living in many countries around the world, has found his roots right here, in this place in Salento, on the road towards the East. Here’s to a good journey…
Photos courtesy of Farmacia Balboa
Piazza Pisanelli 21