This week’s bar: Barrel & Grain Local Taphouse
The scene: In the rustic downtown West Palm Beach space previously occupied by Spoto’s Oyster Bar and Gratify, Barrel & Grain offers a gratifying lineup of brews (almost 200 bottled, another 50 rotating on tap), wines (15, always changing) and spirits (i.e., more than 100 whiskeys). Craft beer fanatics will find a new flavor to savor here, but B&G makes a mean mixed drink — long on flavor, and often labor-intensive. “Our cocktails are not going to be out in five seconds. They take some time,” operations manager Moh Saade says.
The signature cocktail: I wasn’t expecting to warm to a beer cocktail, but the Black Barrel Stout ($10) is perhaps the best mixed drink I’ve had this year. Made with the customer’s choice of stout and Mount Gay rum, the drink looks like an iced coffee, smells like nutmeg and tastes like a mochaccino. It doesn’t get better than that. “None of our cocktails are for everybody,” Saade says, “but we have a cocktail for everybody.” This one is mine.
Other noteworthy drinks: The Pickled Ginger Paloma ($12) is a work of art, and it’s as fragrant as it is delicious (aged tequila and grapefruit juice, yum). The Whiskey Smash ($11), made with a rosemary-thyme simple syrup, is a pleasant surprise. “I can give this to a non-whiskey drinker, and they’ll love it,” says Saade, who adds that B&G’s brunch menu will soon include a Kimchee Bloody Mary, a Bacon and Pancakes Old Fashioned and a Grapefruit Tom Collins.
Bar bites: Chef Kevin Preble’s kitchen churns out gastro pub grub using fresh, locally grown ingredients, but his inspirations are global. “There are pubs all over the world, and all pubs have comfort food,” he says. You must try his Tempura Brie Sticks ($9) or Beer Battered Jalapeños ($7), which come with blueberry jam and a Harpoon IPA cheese fondue for dipping. The Bahn Mi Tacos ($12 for three) are stuffed with duck confit, duck liver mousse and cucumber slaw, and the Pork Belly ($14) is prepared with a maple chile glaze and port wine reduction.
Deals: Happy hour lasts from 3 to 7 p.m. daily, and the specials include half-off draft beers, well cocktails and most glasses of wine.
Info: 125 Datura St., West Palm Beach; 561-833-2767; BarrelAndGrain.com
125 Datura St., West Palm Beach, (561) 833-2767, BarrelAndGrain.com
C O C K T A I L
Black Barrel Stout
3 ounces stout
2 ounces dark rum
1/2 ounce brown sugar
Set Collins glass to chill. In another glass, add stout and swirl to decarbonate. Add rum, sugar, a dash of nutmeg and the egg, and shake. Add ice and shake again, vigorously. Strain into the Collins glass and garnish with nutmeg.