Connect with us

Food & Drink

Bar Trend: N/A cocktails in Columbus culture

Mike Thomas

Published

on

For Columbus writer Shelley Mann, the lifestyle that came with her role as food and beverage editor for publications such as Columbus Alive and Columbus Monthly came to be too much. Nights spent drinking with friends coupled with work that found Mann in several bars a week began to take a toll on her creativity.

“All my spare time before would be spent at a bar, or hung over, unable to string words together,” Mann explained. “I made the decision to stop drinking because I wanted to, because I thought my life would be more manageable and enjoyable if I wasn’t hung over every day.”

Mann gave up alcohol three and half years ago, and has since gone on to launch her own marketing firm, Umami Consulting. Though steadfast in her commitment to leave booze behind, she continued to feel the pull of certain aspects of the bar scene.

“I really missed going to a bar and ordering a cocktail, all the ingredients and effort that goes into it,” said Mann. “I missed that part of drinking, and I have been looking for substitutes— ways I can go out and feel like nothing’s different.”

Mann is not alone in her desire for normally-priced, expertly-crafted non-alcoholic options. Still, large segments of the population who avoid alcohol for many reasons are often left out of consideration in bar menus. Though choosing not to partake, many non-drinkers nevertheless find themselves
in these spaces due to the role that bars play as hubs for social gathering.

In order to reach non-drinkers with options tailored to fit their needs, several Columbus area watering holes have added “n/a” options to their menus. (Just don’t call them “mocktails,” a word that is viewed with growing disdain among fans of expertly crafted zero-proof drinks.)

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

Leading the charge in the push for non-alcoholic options is the kitchen and bar at Watershed Distillery in Grandview. While the primary business may be all about the hard stuff, n/a drink options have been on the menu since May 2017.

“I spend a lot of time in Chicago, and I noticed every cocktail bar I went to included options without alcohol, or at least some language on how to start a conversation with your bar person to concoct something no-proof,” explained Watershed bar manager Josh Gandee. “So we thought,
‘Why not here?’”

Currently in Watershed’s growing n/a rotation are drinks such as the Banana Up-Do—an alcohol-free take on the classic pina colada, and the Winter N/Agroni, which is, you guessed it, a booze-free Negroni. Drinks in the n/a section are priced around $8 or $9, reflecting the quality ingredients and technique involved in their service.

Joining Watershed in the n/a movement is Franklinton bar and restaurant Strongwater, whose line of alcohol-free libations come in the form of drinking vinegars known as “shrubs.”

A passion project for general manager Lauren Conrath, Strongwater’s n/a program launched in June of 2018, with offerings rotating seasonally.

“I think my interest in the non-alcoholic beverage program came from when my best friend was pregnant. It wasn’t until then that I realized how much casual socialization revolves around drinking or being in a bar,” said Conrath. “Once I started thinking about it, I realized there are people who don’t drink for religious or dietary reasons, so it just seemed like a really fun thing to play with that there would be demand for.”

Not satisfied with alcohol-free spins on standard cocktails, Conrath sought a unique take on the n/a concept. This path eventually led to shrubs as Strongwater’s primary zero-proof offering.

“It’s a lot of educating people about what [shrubs] are. When you say, ‘It’s a drinking vinegar,” that doesn’t necessarily sound that appealing,” Conrath explains of the unique beverage, which dates back to the American Colonial period.

Tart and subtly sweet, Strongwater’s pomegranate-rosemary shrub is refreshing, with mild effervescence suggestive of kombucha. The blackberry shrub is infused with allspice and anise, evoking holiday memories through generous use of spice.

Joining Watershed and Strongwater, local favorites Mouton, Comune, and Veritas, are among the growing list of Columbus establishments to feature n/a options as part of their regular menu. This phenomenon speaks to the fact that those who choose not to partake in alcohol are still likely to meet socially in bars, and they’re willing to pay for a full experience.

No Worries @Comune
Photo by Brian Kaiser

While n/a cocktails might never overcome their boozy peers as top-earners for bars and restaurants, many still find value in providing their guests with the option. This is not just another menu item, but a move toward better inclusion, offering those who choose not to imbibe with an equal spot at the table—or bar.

Continue Reading

Food & Drink

Keep calm: Geordie’s English restaurant announces opening date

Mike Thomas

Published

on

No, we aren’t talking Geordi LaForge, chief engineering officer of the USS Enterprise. As it happens, “Geordie” is a slang term referring to people from from the Tyneside area in northeastern England.

Geordie’s is also the name of an English restaurant coming soon to the city’s south side at 1586 S. High St – the former location of Columbus Explorers Club.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

After months of red-tape and construction-related delays, Geordie’s co-owner Glenn Hall-Jones has confirmed an opening date of May 31 for his establishment, which seeks to replicate the true English pub experience right here in Columbus.

So we had a test day in the kitchen Sunday. Just a few of the dishes from the Geordie’s menu. Traditional English Sunday…

Posted by Geordie’s Restaurant. on Monday, May 20, 2019

Once open, Geordie’s patrons can expect beer offerings from the United Kingdom, such as Newcastle Brown Ale, Guinness, and more, along with taps pouring local craft beer. There will also be a full bar and food menu full of favorites from across the pond.

Keep calm and check this spot out on May 31.

Continue Reading

Food & Drink

New, unique brand of ice cream hitting freezers near you soon

614now

Published

on

Just in time for summer, a new ice cream company will be expanding into the Columbus market! Perry’s Ice Cream Company, Inc., a Great Lakes regional brand and Upstate New York’s #1 ice cream choice, will begin stocking over 600 local freezers and scoop shops with its unique flavors like:

  • Bad Breakup (Sea salt caramel chocolate ice cream with milk fudge swirls and fudge-filled hearts)
  • Grasshopper Pie (fudge swirls and mint ice cream will tingle your taste buds while the crème-filled cookies add a refreshing crunch)
  • Off the Grid (Chocolate ice cream with peanut butter swirls and chopped peanut butter cups)

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

The ice cream will be also appear at a number of local events, such as the Columbus Jazz & Rib Fest, Ohio State Fair, and at Huntington Park for Clippers games.

As a result of this expansion into both Columbus and Cleveland, Perry’s has created 49 jobs in Ohio and will directly invest about $6.3 million in the state in 2019.

The Great Lakes-regional and Western New York-based, family-owned company has been making ice cream for more than 100 years and prides itself on its slow-cooked, exceptionally creamy and delicious ice cream made from local ingredients. 

For more information, visit PerrysIceCream.com

Continue Reading

Food & Drink

“Cinco stars” for new and improved Cinco Tacos

Mike Thomas

Published

on

Located in the heart of downtown Columbus near the intersection of Broad and High, Cinco Tacos has been serving the lunch crowd for quite some time. Like many of its fast-casual peers, it was a decent enough place to grab a quick meal that was just a notch above fast food burger chains.

Now, under new ownership, Cinco is done settling for “good enough.” This means more than just a fresh coat of paint on the walls, but a completely new menu highlighting traditional Mexican preparations, executed with patience and care.

Already a veteran of the food truck scene, Fransisco Garcia took over Cinco Tacos a short time ago, and quickly got to work making the space his own. First, he put together a staff well-versed in traditional Mexican cooking. He and his team got to work, completely overhauling and expanding Cinco’s array of offerings.

The results speak for themselves, with tacos, burritos, and other diverse items bursting with authentic flavors that put their Americanized counterparts in the national chains to shame.

Carnitas taco, “suprema” style. Photos by Kelsey Cowan

The secret to Cinco’s superior fare seems to be in taking the time to let flavors develop. The house-made barbacoa takes up to 8 hours to prepare. The carnitas take even longer, and it’s time well spent – both of these proteins are exceptionally tender and flavorful.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

Small touches also demonstrate the care that Garcia takes in his approach to cooking. Not satisfied to serve just another taco, he sources yellow corn tortillas from a purveyor in Chicago that are simply the best available in the region, and perhaps beyond.

On this menu, classic sides like chips and various salsas (all made in house) are joined by unique offerings like pozole – a rich Mexican soup with pork and hominy that is a rarity even among the city’s many traditional Mexican establishments.

Cinco’s pork belly taco – one of the restaurant’s rotating specials

In keeping with the great flavors found on its regular menu, Cinco features a lineup of killer specials that rotate depending on availability of ingredients. The pork belly taco, made with pork belly hand-trimmed and marinated in house, offers an explosion of juicy, porky flavor. Topped with Cinco’s next-level guacamole, this is one special to look out for.

With the new-and-improved Cinco Tacos open for business, it’s hard to justify visiting chain restaurants. Cinco has everything you would find at those other places (plus much more) but with deep, traditional flavors. Try it yourself the next time you’re downtown looking for a quick lunch, or make a special trip of it – Cinco is definitely worth it.

Cinco is located at 1 S High St, Columbus. They currently serve lunch through 4PM, with plans to expand to dinner service in the future.

Continue Reading
X