Bryan Ames, bar director at The Merchant Kitchen & Drinks, first discovered the Foreign Correspondents Club during a six-month trip around the globe, when he and his partner wandered into the three-story bar and restaurant in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Known to locals as “the F,” the institution was founded by expats in 1993 at the end of the Cambodian-Vietnamese war, and still serves as a place where locals and tourists can grab a cocktail and talk about their travels.
Now, Ames is hoping to recreate the convivial atmosphere and global flavors he found in Cambodia at his new pop-up bar in downtown Boston.
The Foreign Correspondents Club — Ames is using the original bar’s name — will open at 5 p.m. Friday in the private dining room space below The Merchant in Downtown Crossing. The bar will operate as a pop-up, Ames said, and will run until September 21.
When it opens, guests will check in at The Merchant’s host stand, where they will receive a postcard before being led downstairs to the bar.
“The whole vibe down there is one that’s aged, a little worn, scavenged,” said Ames. “What I wanted it to feel like was this vibe of traveling back in the 40s and 50s. It was a little rougher, dirtier, harder.”
A world map will hang behind the bar, and the faded mustard yellow walls will give the downstairs den a lived-in look, but it’s the cocktails Ames hopes will really give it the feel of a traveler’s paradise. Ingredients will draw from Japan, Mexico, South America, and the Middle East, with cocktails like the Konbini made with green tea shōchū, lemon, white miso, Japanese knotweed honey, and matcha powder. The Treaty of Manila will feature Don Papa rum, tamarind liqueur, coconut water, curry powder, and egg white, while Tales From a Slender Country pays homage to Chile with pisco, camu camu syrup, lemon, and quinoa broth. Ames said that he is also excited to work with raicilla, which he described as “Mexican moonshine.”
An imported beer and two Hungarian wines (red and white) will also debut on Friday’s menu.
Ames said that Foreign Correspondents Club will feature small bites from Ignacio Lopez, The Merchant’s head chef, that guests can share while talking about their latest adventures.
“What I really wanted to do was create a place that encourages interaction,” Ames said. “I wanted to create a space where people can discuss their travels.”
This week, the bar will be open Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m.–11 p.m., and next week it will operate from Wednesday–Saturday, 5 p.m.–11 p.m. After that, it will maintain regular business hours of Tuesdays–Saturdays from 5 p.m.–11 p.m. Guests can make reservations on the bar’s website.
Foreign Correspondents Club; 60 Franklin St., Boston; opening on Friday, August 9, at 5 p.m.