“Cocktail 88” Review: A Cocktail Bar… With No Cocktails

Cocktail 88, Lisboa

It looks like a cool, attractive place judging from the website, and it has been featured in a couple of local publications, including “Time Out Lisboa.” So I decided to check out “Cocktail 88” last night and judge it for myself so that I could then add it to our recommendations at GoLisbon. “Cocktail 88” is a relatively new cocktail bar just around the corner from the city’s cathedral, and with a 7PM opening time, sounded like a great pre-dinner cocktail destination. I was going to a restaurant in the neighborhood, so I finally visited this bar with some pretty high expectations. Perhaps because I had been sold on it being such a cool new place, my high expectations only led to my biggest disappointment at a Lisbon bar so far.
We were given the same long list of cocktails that is seen on the website, and made our selections. Apparently they were the wrong ones because they could not be served due to a lack of one of their ingredients. We made other choices, and again — not available. So my friend simply asked for the Cosmopolitan but was told she couldn’t have that either because it had cranberry juice and they had run out of it. Just the lack of cranberry juice knocked down a huge number of other possible choices.  And we couldn’t have anything with grapefruit juice either. And no martinis. So although the list is pretty long and tempting, we gave up and thought it was just easier to ask what they did have. Our waitress then suggested a mojito and a caipirinha — basically something we could have at any of the small Bairro Alto bars. Apparently that’s the only thing they could serve because those were exactly the options written on the wall behind the counter as some sort of “daily specials.” So that’s what we had. The other house specialty is sushi, but we were obviously afraid to ask.  The waitress justified the lack of cocktail options with the fact that they were going through “inventory” and that in August they’ll have everything again.  That poor excuse sounded like a restaurant saying “I’m sorry we don’t have any of the dishes on the menu, but we can still offer you a couple of appetizers!…”
As my friend and I agreed, when a business can not offer its main service, it’s perhaps a good idea to shut down for a few days, pretend to go on vacation, and only reopen when it’s back on track.  By providing only a very limited part of its service it risks having negative word-of-mouth ruin the business.
Cocktail 88 could be a very welcomed addition to the city’s bar scene, and especially in its neighborhood. But perhaps it should learn something from Kuta not too far away, which is the cocktail bar I’ll return to whenever I’m in that part of town. Cocktail 88 will only be given another try when I hear anyone say it actually serves cocktails.
It’s sad to see a business with such great potential be ruined by obviously very bad management.  And it wouldn’t hurt having a couple of bills in their cash register either. I was given 10 euros of change, all in 1-euro coins. I didn’t mind because it’s actually convenient to carry smaller change in your wallet, but I found it sad that to the very last minute, my entire time at Cocktail 88 was with the waitress apologizing for something. In the end, I am the one sorry to say I can not recommend “Cocktail 88” and what could have become a place to return to several times with different people, is not one I’ll be heading to anytime soon, simply because I literally have no reason to!

One Reply to ““Cocktail 88” Review: A Cocktail Bar… With No Cocktails”

  1. Hello!

    I would like to invite everyone to the cocktail party on 15th of August 2009. The party begins at 19:00, and for sure, it is going to be a lot of cocktails!
    We going to be open on this day from 14:00, so come and have a wonderful taste of non traditional sushi!
    Everyone is very welcome!

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