While we enjoy cocktails, we have a lot to learn about them. With wine, you get what the vintner wants you to have, and, barring any serious aging problems, typically bottle over bottle of the same wine tastes basically the same. Cocktails are much more varied and flexible. After being challenged on our original review of the Bearded Lady, we were eager to get back, and see if our opinion would change. This time, we had a better appreciation of what goes into a good cocktail, and give a thumbs up to Bearded Lady for satisfying our palates.
Bearded Lady is a local joint, with low lighting, expansive windows overlooking a quiet intersection, and good music playing over the speakers--loud enough so you don’t hear your neighbor’s conversation but not so loud you can’t hear across the table. The real joy though, is the cocktail menu. To emphasize fresh ingredients, they change their menu every season, creating a new “Growth” menu, and shifting last season’s cocktails to the “Stubble” menu. We visited just before winter’s “Growth”, so we took the time to savor the last of the fall tastes.
Since we had no idea what some of the ingredients were, Tina spent several minutes with the bartender, going over the options, as he patiently explained what things tasted like, and helped her figure out what she would enjoy. It worked out well, because she could not stop talking about her choice, the Eastern Smash: a refreshing yet subtly-spicy mix of Fennel-infused Gin, lime juice, pepper, and ginger syrup. The balance of flavors is what made the drink, for her, as the fennel added just a hint of licorice-like flavor to the gin, but played well with the refreshing acidity and spices of the other ingredients. In fact, she had two.
I went with the Town Destroyer, a powerful adult version of spiced cider: Applejack, pear preserves, apples, apple cider vinegar, honey, and nutmeg. It was a perfect blend of flavors, sweet, savory, sour. Best of all, it was based around my favorite part of fall, apple cider, and brought back memories of making my own applejack with nothing more than a gallon of cider, some sugar, and the hope that the recipe was really that simple.
The fall flavors were wonderful. Now we have to make sure to get back and try their winter drinks!