One sip: anything you want

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The cocktail menu at Joie de Vine is literally nonexistent. In its place is a brief paragraph explaining that if you tell the bartenders what spirits and flavors you like, they'll make you a drink tailored to your tastes. (The bar originally focused on wine, but has recently shifted to cocktails and beer.)

It's an unusual approach to cocktail making: while most cocktail bars will make you a custom drink if you ask, I've never come across one before that entirely forgoes a menu. Everything I tried on a recent visit was excellent, though, on par with what you'd get at the Whistler or other bars focused on the craft. None of them had names, of course (though I'm sure the obliging bartender would have made up names if we'd asked her to), but both a rye cocktail with lemon, ginger, and orange bitters, and a gin-based drink with cucumber and "spanked" mint were light and well balanced. All cocktails are $10, and you can get nonalcoholic drinks custom-mixed for $5.

And the beer selection is impressive: about 100 different bottles, many of them rare or unusual (there's no tap system). It would be nice to have stuff like bottle size and alcohol content listed on the menu, but the presence of brews like Dogfish Head Squall 90 Minute IPA, Central Waters Peruvian Morning Imperial Stout, Three Floyds Munsterfest, and Evil Twin Soft Dookie indicates that they're serious about their beers here.

There's a very brief food menu of small plates like Polish sausage skewers with seared fruit, cheese pots with toast, and an "avocado cup" that seems to be a small avocado salad. The whole thing could do with less cutesiness—"hot cheese 'n' jam stacks" are just Brie and jam sandwiches, and the "seasonal kernels" served with butter, mayo, cheese, and cayenne turned out to be popcorn. Still, it was good popcorn, and the sweet and spicy nuts—almonds, cashews, and pecans with a coconut, cayenne, and black pepper glaze—were also satisfying. Spiked watermelon balls would have benefited from being soaked in the vodka before being served, but by the time we finished, the ones at the bottom of the glass had picked up a boozy, spicy kick from the habanero and vodka.

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