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These days you can’t turn on the radio or TV without hearing someone talking about change. I love change – I find it exhilarating. But, the truth is, for most people, change is hard. I’m not talking about politics here – I’m talking about a change at the restaurant.

 

 

For the first four years, Alison at Blue Bell was a BYOB (bring your own bottle). Then, we got a liquor license and started to offer a small, food-friendly list of beers and wines. Even though we still allowed people to bring their own bottle, some people didn’t relish the change. Others loved it. They liked the freedom from lugging their own liquor and the lamented that fact that there was no “grown up bar” in the region.

 

With Alison two, we’re taking the next step in our evolution. You can’t bring your own bottle to Alison two. You don’t need to. We have a full bar with mixed drinks, wines, beers and its own menu of great bar food. We serve classic cocktails with a twist. To make the bar extra special, Beverage Director Tom Pittakas and his crew squeeze orange, grapefruit, lemon and lime juices daily. They make their own grenadine, muddle fresh mint, basil and lavender. Make hibiscus-infused rum for our Jamaica Daiquiri and brandied cherries for our French 75. Tom even makes his own ginger beer right here on the premises. It has a Caribbean taste that makes his Dark & Storm really gingery & bright!

 

Tom took one look at our basement and commandeered a closet that was supposed to be for dry storage. He declared it the wine cellar, ordered shelves and put them together himself. He built a 1,000-bottle wine cellar that includes a great list with a wide range of prices and selections. We have whites from $24 to $67 a bottle and reds from $21 to $206, including a beautiful $40 Pinot Noir. Over time, we’ll continue to expand the wine cellar. If you prefer to order wine by the glass, you’ll be happy to hear about our 16-bottle cruvinet. It allows us to serve 8 white and 8 red wines by the glass, half glass or taste. Having so many wines by the glass means that you can start with a white wine with your Ginger Fried Squid, Mango Slaw, Wasabi Drizzle then switch to red to go with your Painted Hills Ribeye and Maytag Blue Cheese Fritters. We’re happy to help you match just the right wine to your meal. And, we serve all our wines in oversized crystal glasses.

 

Beer drinkers are enjoying our beer list, which focuses on beers from small-batch breweries. Our Curieux from Allagash Brewery in Portland, Maine is a Belgian style brew triple barrel aged in Jim Beam bourbon barrels. Our Pliny the Elder and Damnation beers from Russian River Brewing Company in Sonoma County are also intriguing.

 

We have a terrific bar menu that will constantly evolve. The Tuna Slider, House Made Takewan Salad, Ginger Aioli is already a favorite. Other highlights include Charmoula Rubbed Lamb Loin Chop, Cucumber Mint Relish, Chick Pea Puree; and A2 Frites (hand-cut fries with bacon and onions and homemade ketchup). The bar menu is distinct from the restaurant menu and we offer it in the bar, lounge and living room. The bar is not just an “add on” but an integral part of the experience we offer. And, Tom is already working on bringing in vintners and brewers for wine and beer dinners and other special events in the restaurant.

 

No, we’re no longer a BYOB. But, I hope that’s a change you’ll grow to embrace. Tom is very passionate about what he does. He loves to talk with people about beer and wine, make pairing recommendations and encourage people to try new things. I’ll drink to that. Hope you will too.

 

 

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