Articles Tagged: bars


Bar Review: The Drawing Room

henry house halifax

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My interest was piqued the moment I heard there was something of a “speakeasy” just a short couple of blocks from where we were staying while we were in Halifax.

Enter the Drawing Room, the upstairs speakeasy at an unassuming pub [of which there are many it seems in downtown Halifax]. It’s only open two nights a week, Friday and Saturday. The space however, would not seem out of place in New York City, or any other city with a thriving cocktail scene. A dimly lit, well appointed bar, playing period appropriate music, with simple wooden seating. If this were in New York, you can be sure there’s be another 15 tables in here. But in Halifax? The tables were spread out far enough to give each party their own space. Though the atmosphere might have been a touch louder than other speakeasies, it never felt lacking in intimacy. The Gin Wife and I had plenty of space to enjoy our drinks.

Though, perhaps I am being unfair. Naturally, as an avid cocktail bar visitor in New York, it seems only natural to compare. This is the only place of its kind in Halifax [as far as I know.

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The Columbia Room

columbia room

By now, my dimly lit cocktail bar photography should be legendary. I won’t use a flash, even where permitted (and here it most definitely wasn’t), so as to not disturb other people or draw attention to my blogginess. But alas, I blog anyway, although I try to do so covertly. In this case, the image at right is a picture of our first course at the Columbia room: the Pegu Club Cocktail.

In the back of the Washington D.C. bar The Passenger is where this wonderful place lives. A quiet bar in the back which seats nine. Reservation only (including a private restroom for just the patrons of the back bar). For a prix-fixe price you get three drinks: the house drink,  a drink paired with a small course, and one drink tailor-made to your specifications. The bar is attended by two knowledgeable bartenders who consistently impressed me with not only good drinks, but really stood out in the final course where they came up with our individualized cocktails.

As gin drinkers, you probably want to know about the gin. The bar’s selection is more “curated” as to provide options for as many drinks as possible, rather than “deep.” Only a couple of gins were present, but fortunately Plymouth and Tanqueray 10 were making their rounds, so at least you know they’re thinking quality.

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Pouring Ribbons

I’d heard the buzz about Pouring Ribbons long ago. It’s been on my must visit list for far too long. When my friend Justin visited over Memorial Weekend we made a point of checking out some of the best new cocktail bars in the city.

However, we didn’t plan for the epic cold weather of Saturday and we postponed our bar crawl until Sunday. Sunday was beautiful. But our first visit, Dead Rabbit down in the financial district was closed [well at least the parlor]. So when we arrived at Pouring Ribbons we were ready to get down to business. Fortunately although there was a small line outside at 6 pm this wonderful Sunday, the 7 of us in that line were the only people in the bar for over an hour. Justin and I were fortunate to be at the bar on this quiet Sunday evening, and that’s where the cocktail journey began.


If you like seeing cocktail photos, as well as other random photos come in live. Check out my Instagram….

What’s Good Firstly, all of  the drinks are arranged on two axis: refreshing to spiritous, and comforting to adventurous.

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Figure 19

Somewhere on the Lower East Side is an art gallery. That’s not an art gallery. But a place where a carefully placed door in the back opens up into a true speakeasy.


What’s Good The drinks are good, and although the selection is small, the choice of liquors- particularly gin- is rather small, the drinks on the menu more than made up for  it. I had a gin drink with vanilla and egg, and it tasted exquisite: dessert in a glass.

The atmosphere around 9 on a weekend night was immaculate. Not too crowded. Great Drinks. Tons of taxidermy. Chandeliers hanging overhead, a well appointed fireplace that looked a century old adorned with candles. A very nice feel, warm, cozy. It was quiet and felt somewhat private. It was a great place, the kind of place I could see myself going on a regular basis. I was going to try and ask about becoming a member….

What’s Not so Good …and that’s when around 10:30-11 o’clock hit. The chill bar with an aggressive door policy was overrun. Not just with folks, but a certain kind of folk. Well dressed. Weekend suits.

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Hop Sing Laundromat

If you’ve missed the press on Hop Sing Laundromat, it’s because either a) your head has been buried in a hole for the last year or b) you’re so NYC-centric that it never crossed your mind that a bar with a liquor  selection which blows away any bar in this city could open anywhere other than here.

Enter Philadelphia’s Hop Sing Laundromat, more speakeasy than many other speakeasies.

Since you can’t take photos inside, I tried to find an image from a major news publication that captured just how much great booze are on the bookshelves behind the bar.

What’s Good The drinks, obviously. The menu is filled cover to cover with spectacular drinks. Many of which combine two top level liquors (think rum, whiskey, gin, etc) in a way that some folks might decry as sacrilege. Suffice to say, the results are stellar. The “top shelf well” lives up to its name. This bar has the top notch America craft distilled Smooth Ambler’s Greenbrier Gin chilling in the place normally reserved for Crystal Palace Gin. Naturally, given that I rather enjoy that gin, I thought it added some great notes to the cocktails it was in.

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Top 10s

Top 10 NYC Bars for Ginlovers

# Last Year 2 Years Title —

1 1 1 Dutch Kills    My enduring favorite happens to be in my home borough. But one visit and you’ll see that this isn’t just blatant homerism. Good cocktails and the well educated bartenders have a seemingly endless list of “boozy gin cocktails without dairy, saved straight up.” 2 2 2 Amor Y Amargo  Though not really a “gin bar” and not really just a bar as much as also a “bitters showroom,” good gins often play a key role in Amor y Amargo’s cocktail concoctions. 3 3 – Madame Geneva  Though recently enduring a lot more competition in New York city for the title “best gin selection,” Madame Geneva’s nearly 50 gins are if not the city’s biggest, definitely in the top 5. Combine that with one of the best feels and largest sitting areas, its one of the city’s best gin dens. 4 – – The Gin Palace  Though some of you might get me for having the two places which specialize in gin at 3 and 4, it should hardly be considered a check against these places. Though the selection is slightly smaller than Madame Geneva’s, and has slightly fewer American made gins, it had a few more obscure entries.

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In today’s entry in the GIN is IN’s Guide to New York City, we take a look at another bar which puts its focus on gin. Lovely, wonderful, gin. All of the classics from Plymouth to Hendrick’s are there, but there’s plenty of craft American gins lining the shelf. Looking for Greylock from Berkshire Mountain Distillers? It’s there. Looking for the latest gins distilled across the bridge in Brooklyn? They’re also there.

But the rotating cocktail list is where the gin really shines. The menu has a list of classics evangelizing to those who are unfamiliar with the Negroni, the Aviation and the Martinez. But for gin aficionados, look to the left hand side of the menu. The drinks are titled simply by a number. The bartenders in my experience are enthusiastic, and will talk about the drinks as they make it, and are good with making recommendations. My favorites are the No. 3 (made with No. 3 gin, appropriately), the No. 4, and for the non gin-drinkers or for those looking for a change of  pace, the No. 7 with Rum and Allspice Dram is top notch and not to be missed in my opinion.

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Saxon and Parole

Just around the corner (and actually adjoining Saxon and Parole) is the wonderful gin-centric “speakeasy” called Madame Geneva. But as you would expect from a restaurant with the vision to pull of the gin bar concept, the primary restaurant actually has a bar worth mention itself. And surprise, surprise some of the standouts contain gin.

Many of the drinks on the menu are classics with a twist. The Gin and Tonic features their housemade tonic (this is essential drinking here for those who love their gin) with a grapefruit twist. The celery gimlet is a nice twist on the gimlet in name only, as the drink, although good, does not resemble the classic at all. Another recommended cocktail. Check the menu board, because they do change regularly.

The atmosphere in the bar is rather loud, and again as many other places their primary business is their restaurant. So there’s lots of tables, but in peak hours they’re reserved for those grabbing chow. The restaurant part is a little more chill, with the music much more reasonable and the atmosphere classy, but not stuffy.

Location: Corner of Bleeker and Bowery Saxon + Parole

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Flatiron Lounge


Today we make another stop in The GIN is IN’s Guide to New York City.

The decor is luxurious, warm and red. The lighting is dim and rather romantic, but the bar’s chill atmosphere can change quickly during peak hours. This place can get rather busy, and make no mistake, its due to the cocktails.

The cocktails are seasonal  (what cocktail bar’s cocktails aren’t these days?) and tend to rotate. But one feature worth stopping in for on its own is the Chartreuse flight. Chartreuse has come back in style, but an entire flight devoted to different ways of appreciating the oft misunderstood beverage takes it to a whole new level [picture of said flight from twitter, not my picture].

Flatiron lounge also gets bonus points in my book for the complimentary bar snacks. Sure, they’re nothing too crazy- but slightly spicy and ever so salty, they’re the perfect compliment to whatever you’re drinking. And of course bar snacks are a lost art, and a rare find in the city.

Although Flatiron lounge does not make my guide because of gin selection- they have most of the staples and classics, it does on the strength of its rotating cocktail menu.

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Negroni Week: The Awards

As I’ve talked at length about Negronis both this week and over the course of the nearly 2 year history of this blog. So I thought, why not declare some of my favorites.

Best Individual Negroni (at a bar): The Winter Negroni at Raines Law Room. (written about in June 2011)

The cocktails on the menu rotate seasonally, so I wouldn’t expect to walk in there and order this drink today. In fact, although I wrote about this in June, I first sampled this delightful cocktail in Spring of this year. The point of difference that made this cocktail stand out was limited edition Beefeater’s Winter Edition gin, with nutmeg and citrus which caused it to really stand out. But also the expert preparation and the full-glass circular ice cubes that Raines’ Law Room uses.

Best Place to Order a Negroni (any Negroni): Amor Y Amargo(written about July 2011)

Between the housemade Vermouth, the wide array of Amaros and an expert selection of classic gin this might be one of the best places I know to order a Negroni. The wide diversity in ingredients, which most bars treat as a specialty item and have perhaps one kind of vermouth; one kind of bitters.

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