The location may be somewhat hidden, above a liquor store on New York’s once-dodgy Avenue B in the East Village—a spot that had previously housed a rocker bar called White Noise. But the welcome from the gent manning the door and drinks selection at Pouring Ribbons are all pretty straightforward: This is a serious cocktail bar.
How serious? The name comes from the arc that cocktail ingredients make when poured into a glass.
Opened this past September by the seasoned group of barkeeps from Alchemy Consulting, Pouring Ribbons has already become a top destination for local New York bartenders. Alchemy Consulting specializes in cocktail list development, bar design, barware selection, staff training and ice programs. The team consists of Joaquín Simó, who was Tales of the Cocktail’s American Bartender of the Year in 2012, Toby Maloney, Jason Cott and Troy Sidle. Other Alchemy projects include the Catbird Seat in Nashville, Bar Seven Five in New York, and Violet Hour in Chicago. Sidle had worked with the Alchemy folks at Violet Hour; they convinced him to come to New York and help them do a complete rebuild to create Pouring Ribbons.
Pouring Ribbons’ cocktail list includes innovative quaffs, like the Form of Flattery—made with El Dorado 12-year-old rum, pineapple, house-made nutmeg falernum and beets. Presented as a riff on a tiki drink, it’s served in a tall glass piled high with ice and a mint sprig garnish.
The bar doesn’t neglect the classics, however: It offers more than a dozen cocktail lynchpins, such as the Dark & Stormy, Sazerac and Moscow Mule. Cocktails at Pouring Ribbons are priced at $14, which is in line with the competitive New York drinks market.
The bar serves cocktails over flat, inch-thick cylinders of ice. These take up less freezer space than ice balls and have the same effect on cocktails in that they don’t dilute the drinks too much.
To go with the cocktails, Pouring Ribbons serves bar snacks such as charcuterie, cheese and pâté and a handful of desserts, all priced from $4 to $9. The bar offers a handful of beers, wine and non-alcoholic drinks—such as the Down by the River, made with pineapple, lemon, orgeat and soda ($7).
The bar also features an extensive selection of Chartreuse, including vintages of the herbal French liqueur that date back to the 1950s, which can be purchased in 1/2-oz. or 1-oz. pours. Prices range from $6 for 1 oz. of 2012 green or yellow Chartreuse to $125 for antique yellow or green Chartreuse.
Most guests, according to Sidle, drink the Chartreuse straight up and often compare and contrast them to each other. And whenever guests order the older vintages of the herbal liqueur, Pouring Ribbons also provides them with a taste of the current Chartreuse vintage.
AN EFFICIENT BAR WORKSPACE
The tight space behind the bar at Pouring Ribbons is organized to give the bartenders as much room as possible so that they can get drinks out quickly. Design firm Warren Red created a shallower bar and higher floor for better reach and visibility.
The bar seats 88 guests at ideal capacity at a combination of bar stools and tables. Pouring Ribbons also tries to keep crowds down on busy nights by cutting off capacity below the legal limit of 99.
The cocktail tables near the bar include cubby-sized rectangular holes designed to fit the menus. Servers provide guests with a graph that charts where the different drinks fall in the ranges of refreshing to spirituous and comforting to adventurous.
Pouring Ribbons’ vast selection of specialty spirits warrant the unusually tall back bar shelves, which include a set of built-in steps. So when bartenders need to fetch an esoteric bottle of Chartreuse, they can step into the shelves to scale the wall like Batman to reach the top shelves. A bartender’s bar indeed. ·