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Oct 22, 2008 06:45 AM

Your favorite NJ cocktail bar

I tried searching around but couldn't find a good list. I'm not hip on some of the cocktail boards and such but wanted to ask you guys your favorite cocktail bars. As I mentioned in my 'looking for a Somerville cocktail bar', I like places that you can order and Old Fashioned, Sidecar, Sazerac, etc. and they know how to make it without looking it up in a not-even-Mr. Boston guide. A place that uses fresh lime/lemon juice, etc. Not a shot and beer joints (I have plenty favorites of them!). Not looking for apple-puckered-cosmoed-sugarsruped places.

I think ya get the hint haha.

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    1. Clydz in New Brunswick (many mixed drinks)

      Mix Lounge in Long Branch, NJ (martini specialist)

      1. re: aacharya

        ah, with respect, if it has DJ's with hair that look like they stood on a fan and sprayed's 'probably' not my place.

        While a Krispy Kreme Martini is certainly's also quite scary! Dare I say anyone can mix fruity vodkas in a glass and call it a "martini" but in looking at Mix Lounges menu, I don't see a drop of vermouth or gin in any of them...except for the "long branch iced tea" (I want my bartender to wince if someone orders a LIT)

        A TV is almost a deal breaker as well.

      2. In New Brunswick, I go to Catherine Lombardi a lot. The crowd at not so much my crowd. If I hear something to the tune of "Let's do shots of Yager Bro", I'm usually turned off, so Clydz is hit or miss.

      3. Catherine Lombardi has Dale DeGroff come in and teach the bartenders how to mix drinks with fruit juices squeezed from the fruits and homemade mixes. They take their cocktail program very seriously. I enjoy my drinks there, but their prices are very exuberant ($12), so I can only afford one or two drinks usually :)

        3 Replies
        1. re: njeggy1

          Its all relative, but 12 bucks isn't bad- in Manhattan you can spend that on swill and pay closer to 20 for a Real Good Drink!

          1. re: The Engineer

            Which is why we almost never go into the city.

            1. re: The Engineer

              Indeed. I don't mind the price if everything else falls into place (atmosphere, service, drink, etc)

          2. Ahhh! A topic truly dear to my heart. It seems that there is a growing trend toward professionalism in the bar and not just the kitchen -- cheers!

            Trinity in Keyport has an excellent bar. Great selection of booze, knowledge behind the bar, a drink list with a nod to history (try the Rob Roy with Johnny Gold), fresh ingredients, everything you'd want. Personally, the great gin selection and the fact that there is no TV also make it a favorite.

            Although, a much smaller space, the bar at Market in the Middle in Asbury Park is very good as well. A more limited selection than Trinity, but fresh juices, homemade simple syrup - the stuff you're looking for in a good bar (try the Moscow Mule made with real pieces of fresh ginger).

            Best of all, both places make great food.

            22 Replies
            1. re: MGZ

              Hmmm I have Trinity on my list, I may check it out today after work even though it's a tad out of the way. Do they have a separate food menu for the bar? And do they a few different Ryes? I like my old-fashioneds with Rye (Sazerac, Rittenhouse, Old Overholt)

              1. re: RPMcMurphy

                You know, it's funny, I never did the rye test. Perhaps, it is because we have been going in warmer weather. I haven't made the shift to highballs yet!

                I don't think there is a separate menu - which is probably good because the new Autumn menu, from what we've seen and tasted, is fantastic.

                1. re: MGZ

                  Catherine Lombardi has a cocktail with two ryes, Old Overholt/Rittenhouse...I have yet to try it, but do order my Old-Fashioned with the same 50/50 sometimes, at home I'm a Sazerac Rye guy. I like my fruit - 2 cherries (and NOT bright neon fake pink ice cream cherries) and a half a slice of orange - muddled with my sugar/syrup before hand. (and the orange taken out and a the other half-slice as garnish/rim).

                  Is that so much to ask? haha. I don't expect (although, it would be damn cool) Gary Regan to be making my drinks, but I also don't want the busty bartender recommending a Cosmo when I order an Old-Fashioned because she has no clue what I'm talking about and doesn't have a Mr. Boston guide available and it isn't in the book.

                2. re: RPMcMurphy

                  unfortunately no ryes as of yet......

                  1. re: chefMD

                    What's the deal with rye? I can go buy decent rye at any number of liquor stores, yet if I ask for it at a bar, I am often met with confusion and even a little attitude (as in, Look, don't start any trouble, mister...). I'm with RPMcMurphy (love the name, BTW, my favorite book/film)... I like my Rye in many drinks, even with a little honey dissolved into it, then over rocks -- try it, you'll like it...

                    1. re: aklein

                      just taking a guess here.... I think it has been left behind(somewhat) in favor of the vodka/cosmo/appletini "stuff". look at all the advertising these days. the only dark spirits are capt. morgans and jack(obviously i am generalizing here).
                      on the other hand, there is a trend of the classics coming back, which i love. beware though, majority of people out there aren't ordering sazeracs(my hometown's invention) and sidecars. they order appletinis, pinot grigio with ice and coors light. its a sad sad world..........

                      1. re: chefMD

                        I'm bringin' it back baby. I was at Catherine Lombardi and Stage Left last night and they have about 7 different Ryes. There applecrisp cocktail is made with Rye too (it's how I get my Fiance to drink rye! )

                        But, honestly aklein, I even have trouble finding it in the normal liquor stores. I can find only Sazerac (and maybe jim beam yuck) in the wine store in east brunswick (by A&P) and not find it any other place. Not even Joe Canals in Princeton.

                        I have some fresh local NJ honey i've been dying to use in a cocktail, I'm still learning about cocktails a little, maybe I'll experiment this weekend.

                        I actually just read an article about a Bourbon bar, i think in NYC that has a lot of ryes too.

                        1. re: RPMcMurphy

                          I've recently discoverd Michter's, a single-barrel rye from Kentucky. While I don't know what's up in East Bruns, I bought it at the liquor store next to Wegmans (not connected) in Ocean Township (Monmouth County)... if you try the honey-and-rye, I guess it's sort of a psuedo-Old Fashion... minus the orange and usually without the bitters, unless I can find another bottle of Peychaud's

                          As for the cocktail bars.... I am now trying to re-format my weekend for a trip up to Catherine Lombardi...

                        2. re: chefMD

                          I agree that it is trending that way and I am glad to see it. In fact, I'd love to see it encouraged -- perhaps, a sazerac or sidecar drink special (or a classic cocktail night featuring a new old school drink each week)? If palates can be educated about quality in food or wine why not spirits?

                          As for the lack of American rye at Trinity - this must be remedied.

                          1. re: MGZ

                            taken care of..... Russel's 6yr old rye.... its a start eh?

                            1. re: chefMD

                              awesome - 1 down.

                              next test. what size are the ice cubes?

                              p.s. the liquor store in east brunswick has about 7 different ryes last time i was there, the one next to A&P for the test of you rye lovers.

                              I had 2 'brooklyns' last night at Catherine Lombardi's, its made with both old overholt, and rittenhouse, and I believe a dash of vermouth, and possibly some marischino and some other goodies? with a flamed orange peel. If you like rye's and like strong cocktails, it is definitely a good one.

                              1. re: chefMD

                                That's why Trinity is my favorite place to go - now, you need to figure out how to move it 20 miles southeast!

                                1. re: MGZ

                                  Wouldn't that put you in the ocean somewhere off the coast of Long Branch? :) Not a bad idea anyway.

                                    1. re: RPMcMurphy

                                      does that mean we r packed everynight? change the name to "atlantis"?

                      2. re: RPMcMurphy

                        RPM, in case you didn't see it over there, I'll repeat here: Verve in Somerville is what you want. The last time I had an old fashioned there, the bartender asked if I minded if he made it "his way," which involved a dash of homemade something-or-other.

                        Old Overholt Old Fashioneds rule, by the way. Do you know of any NJ retailers who sell OO though? I stock up in NYC...

                        1. re: The Engineer

                          I don't I can barely get Rye period in NJ. The liquor store next to A&P on rt 18 in east brunswick has a few Ryes, Sazerac, a 70$ bottle of Sazerac (i think aged 18?) and another brand, but can't remember it.


                          I don't want anything "home made" in my old fashioned. haha. Heck, I don't even want seltzer/club soda in it!

                          1tsp sugar
                          1tsp water (just enough to dissolve the sugar)

                          or 1tbs simple syrup

                          2 cherrys
                          half an orange slice
                          a dash or 2 of bitters

                          muddle. take out orange peel

                          2-3oz of rye
                          garnish with the other half of the orange slice.

                          1. re: RPMcMurphy

                            Come on now, ther isn't one ingredient you listed that can't be made- and probably made better- "in house." You can grow an orange, grow a cherry, preserve a cherry, make simple syrup, make bitters, make ice (I've done it), heck even secretly distill your own rye if you have the equipment (a co-worker does it). Nothing homemade allowed in your cocktails?! Crazy!

                            If you are up for a drive, LeNell's liquor store in Red Hook, Brooklyn has a good selection of ryes.

                            1. re: The Engineer

                              guess that came out wrong haha, but you know what I meant! The only "twist" I want on a classic cocktail is the required fresh fruit twist I guess would be more appropriate haha.

                              1. re: The Engineer

                                Replying to myself, how pathetic.

                                Speaking of LeNells, they are (she is) having a rye discussion/tasting (I'd call it a party) soon. Its limited to 10 people and costs 75 bucks. the tasting will probably include some pre-prohibition stuff, her own stuff, and who knows what else. Anyone deep into rye or cool booze in general should check out her website.

                                1. re: The Engineer

                                  MAN! It's this Sunday :( and I have some plans for a nice Sunday dinner at home.

                                  Wish I would have known earlier that's right up my alley!!

                            2. re: The Engineer

                              i second verve engineer, such a misplaced bar/restaurant-in a good way. working and now living out here in NJ (and near verve) is exactly what I need-a city kinda place

                        2. I started a chowhound "list" (new feature I guess, looks interesting)


                          1. Catherine Lombardi, for sure. While the regular prices are high, on Fridays they have a featured cocktail for 30% and they also have free passed appetizers.