Or was it that the Cocktail Menu took us down? Yeah, once you see what we sampled, you’ll probably bet on the latter.
The day we visited was a big day in New Canaan—not only was the farmers’ market going on, but it was also their annual sidewalk sale. As we worked our way through the maze of people we found South End Uncorked chef and owner Nick Martschenko cooking up some lamb merguez to give passerbys a first tastes of what his restaurant would be like. “Do you want to try one?” he asked Dan. It didn’t take much convincing at all and the order was in. The sausage was spicy, had a ton of deep flavors, had just the right amount of lambiness (you know what we mean), and had a fresh contrast with the tzatziki sauce on top. We thought, if this is what the food will be like, we’re in! But, we’re not here today to talk about food. Nope. So let’s get to it.
We went inside to check out the new spot and what they did with it since we’d been there last when it was Harvest Supper. You first go down the alley to go in the side entrance (make sure to snap a shot in the selfie mirror, btw) and then you enter in the side door. As you walk in, the completely open kitchen with a 4 seat chefs table is off to your left as is the bar. Then, throughout the restaurant there are rustic and rich tables and high tops. All around, it’s warm and cozy for a small spot. It’s a place where you could imagine yourself hanging out all day in or just coming by for a few drinks and bites.
We immediately saddled on up to the bar with Michelle Cooper at the stick. Before she took us on a journey through a ridiculous amount of cocktails, she talked to us about the bar and the new menu. Starting the tour, she told us to look below the bar to find the purse hooks and USB and plugs for easy charging. Score. Then, Nick and Michelle shared that HGTV actually filmed the making, transport, and installation of their slick, concrete bar, though they’re not sure of an air date yet.
Ok, so let’s take a look at the drink menu: 4 beer taps and 10 wine, with addtional cans and bottles of beer available, too. If you look closely at the tap handles, you’ll notice they are small chalk boards made from wine barrels. As for the cocktails, they don’t have fancy, hard to remember, hard to say after a few drinks, names. Nope. Their names are just numbers to make your life (and likely the lives of the staff) much easier. More unique than that? All the drinks and much of the ingredients (like sodas and syrups) will be housemade, and in most cases from local sources. Pretty awesome stuff!
So awesome we have to show you. Here’s what we took down (and what took us down):
1) Rose Sangria. Strawberry and nectarine are mashed, then cooled down. From there they add in rose and sparkling water. The result is a light, refreshing, and slightfly fruity drink that you could drink all damn day.
2) Gin + Tonic. Rather than using store bought quinide, Michelle and the SEU crew make their own. And, when it’s all mixed up, the results are an excellent Gin + Tonic, one that will make you see this cocktail in a brand new light. Even for the gin-haters out there, this is sure gateway drug into new territories.
3) Irish Root Beer. Michelle explained that she loves the idea of the Irish Car Bomb, but wanted to do something different. So, here it is: you take a shot of Luxardo Amaretto then you chug down Left Hand Brewing Nitro Stout. It was silky and smooth from the nitro but had that nice almondy bite from the liquor. This is dangerous.
4) Michelle also mixed up her specialty, her version of a Paloma that she uses with grilled grapefruit. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to grill up the fruit on the spot, but don’t worry, when you order it that’s what you’ll get. Like her other drinks, it was very well balanced and still managed to pack a nice punch of flavor. There was also a nice gentle slap from chiles that she cooked down with her simple syrup. So smooth, so refreshing.
5) Keep the kids away from this one: jello shots in the form of orange slices. This is part of a series of shots that they’ll be featuring that takes you through each age progression of your life. There’s a shot for your 20s, one for your 30s, one for your 40s, etc. Guess which one the jello shot is for? This shot is made with Don Julio Silver and orange. It goes down so smooth and so easy and is contrasted nicely with cinnamon sugar on top. You can’t taste the liquor too much: VERY dangerous. ;)
6) We all tried Michelle’s Vodka Pink Lemonade. Very simply, it’s pink lemonade with vodka, but she prepares it with a lime chile salt rim which adds a little spice to this drink. This is the kind of cocktail that you could drink all day long with some built in refreshment.
7) And we finished things up with a spicy margarita with infused serrano peppers. We didn’t want this to end, no sir. Yeah, sure, we were 7 or 8 drinks in (we might have had 2 drinks while we waited for Michelle to set up), but we still wanted more. We can’t say enough about this drink, especially if you dig margaritas.
So, our final thoughts? South End Uncorked is a legit spot to check out if you want to meet some friends for drinks, take a date for a spirited night (both meanings intended), and to just wind the day down. This, exactly, is where South End Uncorked will shine. They are focusing on snacks and smaller portions (though there are large plates), so you could have a drink and have a snack with it, order another drink, have another snack . . . and before you know it it’s past your bedtime and your husband/wife/gf/bf is sending you texts.
We’ll be back to devour the food of Executive Chef Nick Martschenko. And, by the way, we think we’ll take an Uber home next time because those drinks were too damn good.
South End Uncorked
15 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT
Also visit Chef Martschenko’s other restaurant, South End, just down the street.