When we imagine bar carts, we think of decades-old steakhouses or even centuries-old European restaurants; a truly old-school manner of wheeling over your after-dinner drink. (You've got to love the custom of an after-dinner drink.)
But in recent years, more modern bars and restaurants have started to embrace the bar cart in the context of contemporary mixology. After all, restaurant-goers these days have an almost insatiable appetite for craft cocktails -- often enjoying the elaborate ceremony behind creating such cocktails almost as much as the drinks themselves. In that case, why not bring the action out from behind the bar, and into the dining room?
These bars and restaurants aren't just pouring you a Drambuie or a Cointreau -- they're taking the art of the cocktail to the tableside.
At the Colombian-inspired Esco Bar in Chicago, located within the Caribbean restaurant Ronero, both single and large-format cocktails can be prepared right at the table: the Bombilla (bourbon, Benedictine, yerba mate, lemon, and mint) and the Cipitio (gin, Cointreau, pineapple, and lemon) can be made for four to six people, while the Leyenda de Guatemala (Zacapa XO, cocoa nib, coffee, Angostura, orange oil, and mezcal mist) can be prepared for each guest.
Boston’s Oak + Rowan not only features a beautiful horseshoe bar, but custom tableside cocktail carts, at which bar manager Chris O’Neill offers six signature cocktails at any given time, all of which can be put together tableside. Some bars focus on a single drink; Aspen Kitchen wheels over a bar cart to any guest who's after the gin-lemon-Champagne magic of a French 75.
The more old-fashioned Brennan’s of Houston performs a feat of true cocktail magic tableside -- a long spiral of lemon and orange peel studded with cloves, held up and set alight with flaming brandy (!). And there's always the fallback of the perfect martini cart; Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Chicago, a vodka martini can be shaken tableside with horseradish and prime rib-stuffed olives.
[Image: Esco Bar]