We took a short trip out to the ‘burbs for our cocktailin’ experience this month, and we’re thinking you will want to do the same when it’s all said and done! Village Kitchen at Hartness, the new urban village on Greenville’s Eastside, is attracting new residents and curious visitors alike. As the “hub” of the neighborhood, Village Kitchen is the new go-to place for a quick (or lingering) cup of coffee in the morning, an inventive lunch, or a relaxing dinner (with drinks, of course) after a long day!
Consistency is key…
General Manager Jonathan Brashier and his team at Village Kitchen put some thought into the beverage program and came up with a brilliant idea. Instead of doing all of the mixing and measuring themselves, they very thoughtfully came to the conclusion that Cutwater Spirits, a company out of California that distills their own spirts and creates some killer canned cocktails with ‘em, was a winner on all accounts. In blind taste-tests, the canned Cutwater cocktails consistently came out on top; and the ease and consistency for bartenders and customers alike made the decision a no-brainer
We enlisted the assistance of our friend, Courtney, to do some sampling and make some starter suggestions for ya…
The Bloody Mary
We sampled Cutwater’s Classic Bloody Mary and were immediate fans! Made with Cutwater vodka, this veggie-forward cocktail features a special blend of “exotic spices” to make it interesting without the spicy heat that you often find in other bloodys. (For those who need that heat, Cutwater also offers a “kicked-up, fiery version” in their Spicy Bloody Mary). We loved this slightly peppery classic as it allowed us to savor the richness of the ripe tomatoes with a little umami finish. This would be a great way to start just about any day!
The Tequila Margarita
A good ol’ Margarita is one of our fave summer cocktails, so we figured this would be a good one to give a try. The slight floral aroma of Cutwater’s tequila is the perfect complement to the tart lime, subtle hint of orange and pinch of pure cane sugar that come together to create smooth, refreshing perfection…just right for these dog-days of summer!
The Mai Tai
While travel to the islands has ticked up a bit recently with relaxed restrictions and passports itching to break out of the safe, some folks might not be ready to make that jump just yet. Well…Cutwater’s Tiki Rum Mai Tai brings the islands to the village! Tiki paradise is found in this taste of the tropics. Cutwater Barrel-Aged Rum and their Bali Hai Tiki Gold Rum which is blended with pineapple and coconut flavors are added to their unique citrus mix to create the perfect tropical cocktail. Mai Tai, take me away!
Savor the simple…
Chef Tanner Marino, Hartness’ Executive Chef, has worked to create a menu that is simple, fresh and fast, while being made from scratch each and every day. Featuring specialty coffee and breakfast options in the morning and transitioning into a fresh, farm-to-table, Southern-influenced menu for the rest of the day, the kitchen is cranking out some real winners in our book! We pretty much inhaled the Chicken and Waffles (featuring a to-die-for cornmeal waffle) and couldn’t get enough of the Fig and Pig Flatbread.
We have a feeling that we will be headed back out to the ‘burbs soon and often!
Village Kitchen . 2000 Society Street, Suite 100 . Greenville . 864.686.7900
Angi Einstein and Alex Ryan
Just when we think our fair city has reached its pinnacle with new and interesting drinkin’ establishments, another one comes along and knocks our socks off! It seems that while we were all squirreled away in our covid bubbles, the building and the booming downtown didn’t take a break. And now that we are on the brink of full quarantine release (please…we are optimistic), we have found the perfect place for bustin’ out! Perched high above our old Greenville News stomping grounds, Juniper – NOW OPEN on the top floor of the brand new AC Hotel – is about to be the “next big thing”!
A little something for everyone…
No matter the mood, the crowd, or the appetite, Juniper has it covered (or uncovered). This rooftop spot offers every kind of seating imaginable…bar, table, indoor, outdoor, quiet, buzzy…with cocktails and nibbles to match. Let Baileigh, lead mixologist extraordinaire, work her magic behind the bar with one of her cocktail creations and let the kitchen wow you with one of their shareable plates, then just take in that view and let the magic begin.
Risk it for Hibiscus…
While immersed in this upscale, vine-covered oasis with a view like no other, it would only be right to sip on an equally intoxicating cocktail. Inspired by a memorable hibiscus olive oil cake that Baileigh baked in culinary school, this tequila-based beverage is as tasty as it is beautiful with edible glitter, hibiscus sugar rim and a cloud-like topper. Maestro Dobel Silver tequila, house made hibiscus simple syrup, lemon juice and a blood orange olive oil come together perfectly to create a divine flavor and texture -and the foam is actually made from aguafaba, a vegan alternative to egg whites – who knew? This stunner is like sipping on a beautiful sunset!
All She Wrote….
This elixir is a take on The Last Word, and this take is clearly an elevated version! An herbaceous St. George gin is mixed with Chartreuse, lemon juice and Italicus Bergamotto liqueur (bergamot is a very sour lemony orange and is a main ingredient in Earl Grey Tea – fun fact) and finished with a spritz of Absinthe on the glass. And just when you think it can’t get any better- hand-spun cotton candy tops it off creating a magical experience as the colors turn from green to blue as it slowly dissolves. The heady, aromatic flavor and smooth, velvety finish create the ultimate sensory experience.
Kings & Jokers….
Named after a college drinking game, this beverage will bring back fond memories and create some really fun new ones! Havana Club Anejo Blanco rum, Chinola passion fruit liqueur, butterfly pea flower infused rum (for color), and lime are combined and blended with a house-infused papaya shrub (a healthy drinking vinegar) to create a unique and adventurous experience. This one will kickstart your tastebuds in the best way possible!
Hop that trolley….
Now, we have seen our share of table-side “shows”…guacamole, Caesar salads, the occasional Baked Alaska…but a cocktail trolley?! Be still our hearts!! Juniper will delight guests with special table-side mixology sessions with a brilliant Gin Trolley featuring (of course) every imaginable gin along with the accoutrements to create mind-blowing bespoke cocktails. Now, if that trolley could only add our streets to its route!
The old Greenville News home place…with a giant upgrade…
Although it was bittersweet to see the old, iconic Greenville News home-place go, we could gush on about this place…and the space. The artwork alone (featuring some of our favorite local talents) is a sight to behold. And stay tuned for more on “The Press Room”, a speak-easy with a clever nod to our iconic employer.
Make your reservations now…Juniper is calling your name!
Juniper. 315 South Main . Greenville . junipergvl.com . 864-720-2950
Angi Einstein and Alex Ryan. http://www.therarebelle.com
Our TALKGreenville cocktailin’ experience this month was easy-peasy…chill, pop, drink. While this might sound a bit ho-hum, it was anything but!! Created back in 1952, the The Finnish Long Drink, a top-selling category of alcoholic beverage in Finland, is a relative new-comer to our U.S. shores…much to our delight. A refreshing “citrus soda with a premium liquor kick”, the long drink comes all nice & tidy in a can – making drinkin’ on the go easier than ever (think picnics & tailgating) for those of us who just never took to drinking beer on the regular. Although this refreshing creation has quite the back-story, we are most interested in the here and now – immediate imbibing!
Those brilliant Fins…
As we said earlier, this belle-ringin’ cocktail has actually been around for a while. As Finland prepared to host the summer Olympic Games in 1952, they had a conundrum. As a country of just 4 million on the world stage, they didn’t want to have any “slip-ups”. Of course, they had to pay attention to venues, lodging, and transportation…but one the most important concerns was how to serve beverages (of the alcoholic variety) to the throngs of visitors. We wouldn’t want folks waiting in long lines left empty-handed, now would we?! They brilliantly came up with a citrusy grapefruit and gin concoction that could be canned or kegged and voila…refreshing cocktails in a snap! (And lots of happy tourists!)
This cocktail in a can is long on flavor, short on prep! Imagine refreshing grapefruit soda (think Fresca) with a juniper punch, striking a nice citrusy, earthy balance that is slightly sweeter than your typical gin & tonic. (Speaking of Fresca, if Coca-Cola is reading this – please bring Tab back – it was truly cruel to discontinue such an icon in a pandemic – just sayin’). Now, back to business. Drink it right out of the can or take it up a level with a glass and some fresh lime. Either way, this is your opportunity to let the legend continue – and you will surely want to Finnish it!
The Zero Sugar…
We found this version to be a bit more crisp and less sweet..an all-around win for a “diet” beverage. Oddly, it also seemed to be slightly more effervescent…which is always a good thing in our opinion. The Zero Sugar option is a bonus for those who are working on maintaining a slim figure as it packs the same great taste with a lot less guilt – truly a winner on every front!
While the original features the citrusy-but-not-too-sweet grapefruit, cranberry brings a tart yet sweet edge to this version. Reminiscent of dark cherry, the cranberry flavor brings a surprising and decidedly refreshing twist when mixed with the gin. Along with its counterparts, the cranberry version is the perfect sporting beverage for gatherings, tailgating, and many other celebrations. We are pretty sure you will get a kick out of this can!
The long journey across the pond…
The Fins and their visitors have been enjoying the Long Drink for nearly 70 years. Sadly, tourists would fall in love with the delicious “national drink” only to pine away for just one more when their stay came to an end. However, things took a turn about five years ago giving folks the chance to take a sip outside of Finland’s borders. In 2015, it went on shelves in several other European countries, then quickly entered Asian markets. Now, at long last, The Finnish Long Drink is ours to enjoy right here in the good ol’ USA – and with impeccable timing. In this era of social distancing, the long drink is a novel idea from the past that we can embrace in the here & now – a mixed cocktail all ready to go…no need to share liquor bottles and mixers!
With a 5%-8% alcohol content, the canned long drink is kind of like drinking a beer or one of those über-popular flavored seltzers…only better. While the usual canned beverages like beer and seltzers give you that full, bloated feeling, the Finnish Long Drink won’t make you feel like a blow-fish. However, imbiber beware…this delightful beverage is sooo smooth, you might forget there’s real liquor in that can! Let’s pace ourselves, folks. Kippis!
The Finnish Long Drink . longdrink.com .
Check the website for local availability.
New year, new TALK Greenville cocktailin’ adventure..
We are true fans of almost anything “française”, so Bonjour Crepe on Main Street has been on our “to-do” list for quite a while. We had visited for lunch and brunch to partake in their authentic, to-die-for crepes, but we had not given cocktail hour a try…and you know that’s our thing! We paid Mayra and her team a visit to get the scoop on what’s happenin’ behind the bar, and we were très content…even en extase! Read on for our faves and more…
Bonsoir mes amis…
Mama always said, “don’t judge a book by its cover”. Well, unless you are “in the know” (and consider yourself as such as of now), Bonjour Crepe might sound a bit like a daytime-only go-to, but don’t be fooled. The dinner menu at this lovely little place is truly divine!! Start with the charcuterie and then go for the scallops (in a saffron orange sauce – yum!), the peppercorn steak, or the très français Escargot Bourguignon…or any of the other outstanding dinner selections. Trust us, bells will be ringin’!
As for the behind-the-bar action…
The bubbly classics…Kir Royale & French 75 …
We started our tasting with two mainstays in the champagne cocktail arena. The Kir Royale is simple yet inspired in its elegance. Balance is key here, and these bartenders add just enough crème de cassis to achieve perfection. Created by the French as a festive cousin to the Kir cocktail with Nazi resistant wine, the Kir Royale will have you declaring “vive la resistance”! But the bubbles don’t stop there! The French 75 is another winner with the addition of gin, lemon juice and sugar. While the Italian aperol spritz has enjoyed more buzz in recent years, the French 75 is front and center here…and for good reason. Santé!
The French Martini…
We belles learned a little something on this adventure as we had never heard of a French martini – shocking we know – but we can all use some enlightenment now and then. This is where you see the alchemy behind the bar and a twist of creativity. Made with vodka, chambord and pineapple juice then filled to the brim with champagne this drink hits a new level of modernity. We loved the citric and floral aromatic elements of this magic potion. We are thinking you will too!
The New Fashioned…
Fondly known here as “Emilee’s finisher”, this boozy beverage might go down in history. As a twist on the basic old fashioned, this mouth-watering combination of Makers Mark, cherry liqueur and chocolate bitters will have both the experienced and novice bourbon drinker singing its praises. With its hint of chocolate added to the caramel notes of the bourbon, it makes the perfect last cocktail of the night -thus, the finisher
Never a dull moment…
Mayra and her team like to keep things interesting, so they are a threat to bring in a belly dancer or two! Guests love their “Arabian Nights” (that’s where the dancers come in), and they do “Boozy Bingo” on Sundays along with bottomless mimosas for brunch and “ladies nights” on the regular. Be sure to follow along on Facebook or Insta for details on what they have up their sleeves next!
Open every single day, this “crepery & more” is ready and waiting for you!
Bonjour Crepe . 20 South Main Street . Greenville . 864-509-1090 . @bonjourcrepegvl
Cheers! Alex & Angi
Here’s what we have goin’ on in TALK Greenville this month…
Who’s ready for a new year, a fresh start, a hard reboot?? We are for sure! As we enter the final month of this terribly topsy-turvy year (finally, right??!), we are ready to pop some corks and let the bubbles flow! We sat down for a little tutorial a few weeks back at a Champagne masterclass at Foxcroft Wine Co., and came away with a fresh supply of the sparkly stuff – all chilled and waiting for the celebration to begin!
a delightful “accident”…
Believe it or not, ol’ Dom Pérignon spent much of his life trying to kill the fizz in his wines! Wines produced in the Champagne region of France (the only wines that get to be called Champagne with a capital “C”) have the natural tendency to bubble, but early French wine makers saw this as a major drawback…a sign of wine gone bad. The English actually took a liking to the sparkles, shipping barrels across the channel in the early 1600’s, well before the French realized they were onto something – and we are so glad they did!
Pierre Moncuit “Delos” 2006…
It was a privilege to taste this 2006 Grand Cru which is comprised of grapes from only that year. The 37-acre Moncuit operation started producing champagne in 1860, and they pride themselves on their custom balancing (no stiff, stuffy formula here) for flavor and character. We belles love anything custom, so high points for making us feel special!
Lilbert-Fils Blanc de Blancs
This delicious creation comes from a small vineyard (only 8 acres) that began producing champagne in the 1700’s – so they certainly have experience on their side! Using exclusively Chardonnay grapes, they produce only 2500 cases per year, so it was a special treat to sip this broad, well-rounded, yet fresh and ripe result. We especially enjoyed the smaller boules or bubbles that tickled our tastebuds. One word of advice…once the cork is popped and this lovely champagne is exposed to air, the aroma and taste change dramatically; so be patient, give it a swirl, and enjoy every sip!
Jacquesson No. 743…(our FAVE!)
This is the champagne that Napoleon took along as an “essential provision” on his many campaigns, even taking it with him on his ill-fated invasion of Russia, thus introducing Moscow to the merits of the bubbly elixir. In fact, on his visit to Jacquesson in 1810, Napoleon awarded them with a gold medal in recognition of “the beauty and richness of its cellars”. With a change in ownership in 1990, Jacquesson has continued that award-winning tradition. (Don’t we all love a winner?) With this kind of stellar reputation, consistency is key, and they’ve got it figured out -just sayin. And if it’s good enough for the Emperor, it’s good enough for us!
some champers trivia…and a challenge
When the clock ticks down at the end of this month…putting the final nail in the coffin of 2020…we will most definitely be celebrating with a bottle (or a case)! Conveniently, December 31st happens to be National Champagne Day, after all. Here are a couple of interesting facts about the sparkling elixir…. First, there are approximately 49 million bubbles in the average 750ml bottle. We will take their word for it! Second, the longest flight of a cork on record is 177 feet. Our challenge to you…see how far you can make one fly (responsibly, of course) at the stroke of midnight as you welcome what we hope and pray will be a healthy, prosperous, harmonious 2021!
Thanks to the folks at Foxcroft for the education and their extra-special hospitality. Stop by and let them show you around their collection of wines (with and without bubbles) and stay for a bite – you will not be disappointed! They sure know what they are doing. And our special message to you…we wish you all the happiest of holidays and a very happy brand-spankin’ new year!
Foxcroft Wine Co . 631 S Main Street . Greenville . 864-906-4200 . foxcroftwine.com/greenville
Happy, Happy!! Alex & Angi
Check out our latest cocktailin’ contribution to TALK Greenville…on stands (and online) now!
Our fair city never ceases to amaze us! While these past few months have been challenging to say the least, we continue to witness greatness in the making in the cocktailin’ & culinary business. Our most recent discovery…recent newcomer Urban Wren Winery. We had been hearing lots of hoopla about the food, the drinks, the vibe – so we had to go check it out for ourselves. One recent afternoon, we sat down with Nick (owner) and Eric (GM and resident sommelier) for a chat and some sips & samples. It was quite the belle-ringin’ experience!!
Eric certainly knows a thing or two about the world of wines, and he has curated a list with a world focus. He set out to create a “sense of place” for folks from near and far, accomplishing his goal with wines from six of the seven continents (impressive!). Stop by for a glass (or a bottle) from his collection – and stay tuned for news on some eventual wine-making action!
While we were tempted to have Eric choose his favorite bottle for us to savor, we just had to show the bartenders some attention. They did not disappoint! Here are three of our favorites…
The White Negroni…
The sophisticated yet cool atmosphere of Urban Wren lends itself to this upscale classic. A large, single cube tinkles in the glass, a soaked cherry enhances the look, while the blend of Lillet Blanc and Suze create the perfect balance of strength with a soft finish. “Simply divine, make it mine”, your tastebuds will cry! It’s the perfect starter drink before what is sure to be an incredible meal.
Papa Don’t Peach…
Woodford Reserve and grilled peach simple syrup combine to enhance the smokiness of this beverage as it is smoked “en place” to add a touch of drama. This delightful creation smells like a warm fire and a cozy conversation, yet the flavor is subtle. Papa can preach all he wants as long as we can have one of these in our paws!
This delicious concoction, garnished with pickled cactus and lime, is refreshing, well-rounded, balanced and sure to keep you and your palate intrigued. We are fans of a good, smoky Mezcal, but the smokiness in this case is perfectly tempered by citrus juices, a delicious mango puree, roasted poblano, and honey. Perfection!
As if the beautiful indoor bar & table seating and patio space weren’t enough, Urban Wren has even more room to “social distance” and celebrate in their special events loft! They host their own larger gatherings with wine tastings and culinary/mixology classes; but it’s also the perfect space for small-ish wedding receptions, rehearsal dinners, birthday gatherings, corporate events…you name it, they can do it!
get social & have a nibble…
The bar at Urban Wren is front & center, just waiting for guests to slip in and join the conversation. And bring your appetite, because the bar bites are not to be missed! We highly recommend the to-die-for lamb tacos and the mobile charcuterie (a Tuesday evening treat) with a heavy dose of their witching sticks, but you can’t go wrong. Gather your gang and book a table for dinner to get the full experience. Bon appetit!
Urban Wren . 116 N Markley Street . Greenville . 864-626-6336
Cheers!! Alex & Angi