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Apr 12, 2008 08:10 AM

Are there any good bars in Central Jersey?

By way of preface - I feel the same way about drinks that I do about food. Use good ingredients and execute properly. I enjoy a pre-dinner martini. A real martini, your grandfather's martini, Cary Grant's martini. Gin, vermouth, olives, served in a modest sized martini glass. It's not alot to ask for, but somehow, it's becoming impossible to procure.

Last night at the Shipwreck, I settled for a No. 10 martini, as, like most bars in the state, they can't be bothered to stock a couple of premium gins (however, they do have 30 diffrerent vodkas even though vodka has no discernable flavor and therefore all of those premium brands taste pretty much the same!) Due to turnover, the Shipwreck no longer has professional bartenders. Upon taking my order, the drink preparer took a break from discussing hair coloring techniques with her partner, filled a shaker with ice, poured in some Gin, shook it vigorously, and used another shaker to strain it into a giant glass (along with some ice). When I aksed what happened to the vermouth, I was informed that most people order their martinis without so she doesn't use any!

As I was sitting directly in front of the station where the two young ladies were mixing, I noticed the following: shakers reused after dumping out the contents without even rinsing them out (I watched this happen drink after drink), olive juice added to vodka martinis whether the customer ordered them "dirty" or not, the vermouth bottle never left the rail, and a couple of ice cubes dropping into almost every drink as the cocktails were strained between shakers.

So now, I posit the question. Are there any good bars in Central Jersey? Real bars? Professional bartenders? Perhaps, dare I ask, even a place where Beefeater isn't the best gin?

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  1. MGZ - Try the Bar at Nicholas. Chris the Bartender (who's also a poster on this board) will pour you a properly made drink. Good Luck.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bgut1

      +1 ....and the "bar snack" menu is.....well........the best you'll likely ever have! ;)

    2. What about the bar at Fromogerie? My girlfriend loves the martinis there!

      1. I haven't been there in along time so I can't be sure if the quality is still the same, but my family and I always loved the bar in the Bernardsville Inn.

        I also love the bar at Anton's at the Swan in Lambertville. Also in Lambertville is the Boat House, another old favorite.

        4 Replies
        1. re: flourgirl

          It's actually called The Bernards Inn (in Bernardsville) but who's counting? :-)))

          With it's unobtrusive pianist playing standards in the background, the Library Bar is quite nice. Here's a good shot of it.
          It's so clubby and old-time atmospheric that you expect Humphrey Bogart to come sauntering in wearing a white dinner jacket at any moment. You can order off the full menu at the bar, and the many meals we've had there, though pricey, have ranged from passable to very good. Well worth a visit. "Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By.' You played it for her and you can play it for me. . . If she can stand it, I can! Play it!"

          1. re: mmgpsych

            The executive chef, Corey Heyer, was previously chef de cuisine at Nicholas. We had dinner once at The Bernards Inn, but that was quite some time ago, well before the arrival of Chef Heyer. The dining room has that comfy, clubby feel as well, which I really liked. The fact that I have very little recollection of what we ate tells me it was probably fine but neither rant- nor rave-worthy.

            1. re: mmgpsych

              And you would think that I would know better since my wedding was held there in 1992.

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. Catherine Lombardi in New Brunswick upstairs from Stage Left serves real cocktails.