When is the last time that you had a great cocktail? Not just an okay cocktail, or a mediocre cocktail, or a pretty good cocktail? But a GREAT cocktail? It seems like those can be pretty few and far between these days, as techniques get more intricate, ingredients become more and more obscure and bartenders get stuffier. To be honest, I have nothing against complicated cocktails with ingredients I can’t pronounce…if they are good. But sometimes I just want a good drink without having to wait 15 minutes to get it. Can I get an AMEN?
Lucky for me, the folks over at GRAIN Bar know exactly what I’m talking about. An intimate, viby little place in Midtown, the team behind Cypress Street Pint and Plate and Seven Lamps (also favorites) has brought a some style to this neighborhood block with a new spirits spot that serves up delicious libations without all of the pretentiousness. Designed as a cocktail bar and neighborhood watering hole first, GRAIN offers a welcome breath of fresh air in the spirits scene. You won’t find any stuffy attitudes here. You might find a few ingredients you aren’t familiar with, but alongside a cheerful explanation of what they are from the staff or Kevin Bragg, one of GRAIN’s co-owners and lead bartender. Whatever you do, just don’t call him a “mixologist”.
“Bartenders can definitely take themselves too seriously. We wanted to lose the vest and tie and the ego that comes along with handcrafted cocktail programs these days. The idea behind GRAIN is a much more simplistic approach cocktails and hospitality,” said Bragg the day I met him.
That’s not to say that fun is lacking. Liquid nitrogen is present behind the bar, as are fresh sours and juices that go into each cocktail. The spirit focus in the cocktail menu lies in bourbon and gin, with a few vodka options and a wine list for all of the winos seeking a nice glass after a long day. Adult beverages on draught include house Mint Juleps and an Old Fashioned(s), both made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon and just as delicious as the kind that take much longer to make. In true Cypress Street style, the GRAIN crew has also assembled a curated beer list sure to satisfy any beer-lover.
With all of the talk about great cocktails you’d like they might have forgotten about the food. Not an after-thought, not even a little bit. Fun, creative bites, small plates and big flavor. A charcuterie offering that impressed even the biggest meat and cheese snob (me), delicious oysters on the half-shell, fun little plates that are big on flavor, and even homemade ice cream and chocolate cake — seriously, heaven. Small kitchen and all, they’ve managed to do a lot with a little here. Which clearly speaks to the inspiration behind the name — taking a seed and turning it into something greater.
So, in summary I guess all you really need to know is that the next time you’re looking for a great, quick drink, delicious bites and a viby spot sans the fussiness, you should head to GRAIN. Pretty simple, right?
Food and drink pictured:
Red Dragon || Pisco porton, lime, ruby port, tarragon
Charcuterie || Carolina reaper, pepperoni, Sweetwater 420 beer mustard, pickles, baguette
Cheese || Tillamook, grapes aigre doux, candied nuts, baguette
Fried Cheese || Jack, gruyere, fromage blanc, romesco sauce
Deviled Eggs || Dijon, salami, shallot, sorghum, capers, sweet pickle
Chocolate Porter Ice Cream || Milk chocolate, peanut butter pretzel
Ampersand || Broker’s gin, chili, soy, lime, basil
For more information about Grain and to see the full menu, visit grain-bar.com