The other night I stopped into the brand spanking new Tate's on McKinney Avenue in Uptown. Once inside I saw dark wood and masculine décor plus shiny glass containers full of liquor, fruits and liquored-up fruits.
Then I met Kirsten and JW, two adorable bartenders in mismatched (in a good way) shirts and ties. Like two nerds who attended the Graduate School of Liquor and graduated Summa Cum Libation with a minor in Hipster, they were nice and helpful, happy to both answer my all my annoying questions and craft for me a deliciously fruity cocktail.
So I interviewed them, starting with JW.
What's your favorite drink here?
JW: I'll see your one favorite drink and I'll raise you two faves. The first is the Blackbird Julep. It's our signature drink, and it's got Chambord, lemon vodka, fresh-squeezed lemon juice and our boozy berry compote.
That sounds fantastic. What's in it?
JW: Oh, just fresh fruits soaked in brandy.
JW: My second favorite drink is more serious. It's called the Jane Danger.
Sounds like a superhero.
JW: She is in fact a real person and yeah, she's pretty much a superhero. This drink has Smith & Cross rum, Campari, Dolin's sweet vermouth and bitters in a glass that's had an absinthe rinse.
And the food?
JW: The jalapeño-spiced two-step meatballs. There's beef and chorizo in there. They're awesome.
And what's the most interesting/surprising/out-there item on the menu?
JW: The Smoke & Mirrors. Scotch, Luxardo Amaretto (he persuades me to smell this liqueur), lemon juice, simple syrup and Pompelmcello. That's like lemoncello only it's made with grapefruit.
Sounds fancy. Where do you drink when you're not drinking at Tate's?
JW: Cedars Social, Marquis and The Gin Mill. I love The Gin Mill's cocktails and their loungey-style. I like how it's dark in there with gilded mirrors and good music.
Kirsten, what's your favorite drink here?
Kirsten: That one. [Points to the end of my straw.]
[At this point I should mention that JW shook me up a delicious Blackbird Julep while we chatted. It had a metric shit-ton of delicious boozy fruits on top of it, which made it both food and healthy.]
Nice. I could drink a great many of these. What's the best thing on the menu?
Kirsten: The nachos. They're topped with beef, chorizo, black beans and jalapeño cheese.
Y'all sure do like chorizo here at Tate's. Where else do you like to drink in town?
Kirsten: What feels like home, you mean?
If you live with a bunch of drunks, I guess.
Kirsten: That'd be Stonleigh P. They know my name and my drink.
Nice. Describe Tate's in ... let's say ... four words. Go.
Kirsten: Family ... Fun ...
Sounds like a water park so far ...
Kirsten: Chill ... Amazing.
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Okay. Thanks for playing.
By then my Blackbird Julep had flown. On my way out I met Matt Ceneviva, part-owner and bar manager. He was busy doing 10 things at once with a surprisingly large smile. Answering questions from his staff, playing DJ, working out menu pricing and talking to me. He gave me some printed menus, so now I know that Tate's signature cocktails, classics and and martinis range between $8 and $12. The wines range from $7 to $12 per glass, and shared plates will set you back between $4 for their signature caramel corn and peanuts to $12 for an artisanal cheese or antipasti platter.
Hello bandwagon, and buh-bye sober wagon.