Grit & Grace strives to keep cocktail culture fun | Drink | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Grit & Grace strives to keep cocktail culture fun

"Since sharing food is part of the experience here, we wanted to do the same with drinks."

Just because you're drinking a perfectly made cocktail — complete with house-made mixers — at a hip new Downtown bar, it doesn't mean you can't have some fun. That's the idea at Grit & Grace, the latest concept from chef Brian Pekarcik and Richard Stern, owners of Spoon and BRGR.

"Cocktails got really serious for a little bit. That's great, but it doesn't always have to be a serious experience," says restaurant manager Nicole Battle. "It's a lot more fun here."

Spoon beverage director John Wabeck and G&G bar manager Holly Fridley designed the cocktail menu. The two previously worked together under the mentorship of famed sommelier and cocktail creator Todd Thrasher, at Restaurant Eve in Arlington, Va.

The cocktails here cast an eye toward Asia. "Oshaku" (named for a geisha whose sole role is to pour drinks) is a play on a martini, swapping out vermouth for plum wine. "Jambie the Genie," served in a whimsical, skull-ringed tiki mug, is a fruity, and potent, mix of Mextaxa, sochu, St. Germain, Benedictine and guava purée.

"Since sharing food is part of the experience here, we wanted to do the same with drinks," says Fridley. So try a Scorpion — a mix of brandy, rum, citrus juice and orgeat that's served in a bowl with several straws.

Then there are the porron, Catalonian drinking vessels that, when tilted at just right angle, waterfall booze through the air and into a drinker's mouth. Though porron are traditionally used for wine, here they're filled with a mix of gin, white wine, sochu and tamarind soda. "We had to worry about keeping it light in color because it can get messy," says Fridley.

A hefty wine list (curated by Wabeck) is also available, along with a selection of 15 beers.

Whatever you drink, Battle says, "We don't want anyone to feel like it's ‘too nice,' and they can't come in just because it's a new Downtown bar."

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