In case you were not able to attend Tales of the Cocktail, the mixology festival, which occured this past weekend at the Monteleone, you can still find a minorly-pretentious, extra delicious mixology cocktail in the city! For those who do not already know, “mixology,” or “molecular mixology” is the term for the art and science of creating cocktails. There are many watering holes in town that serve tasty drinks, but only two follow the mixology trend that is sweeping the nation, those being Cure and Bar Tonique.
Cure is located uptown on Freret Street in a rather beautiful brick building. The high ceiling bar is quite striking on its’ own, but nothing compared to the vine covered courtyard attached to the cream colored building. Tonique on the other hand, is located on Rampart Street downtown, right across from the Louis Armstrong Park. It too is a brick building with tall ceilings, but unfortunately there is no courtyard to be found. Once owned, by the owners of Delachaise, Bar Tonique has similar decor even down to the chalkboard menus, which hang high on the brick walls. Both Cure and Tonique have rather large cocktail menus, holding recipes for strange new concoctions that seem to overshadow a simple gin and tonic.
Each offers a miniature book filled with long lists of enchanted drinks. Tonique’s menu is organized in somewhat of a scientific fashion, placing their drinks into lists categorized by spirit. The bars similarly mimic the scientific theme with their strange manner of mixing cocktails, using droppers and tiny glass beakers to create their cocktail science experiments. With all the gadgets and knickknacks behind the counter, these bars almost look like old fashioned pharmacies, which makes sense for Tonique, who rumor has is it, originally wanted to be named Apothecary.
These beaker-esque glass bottles hold things as commonplace as lime juice and simple syrup, and as rare as elderberry essence and orange flower water. They also utilize house-made basil and ginger infused simple syrup and have a raw herb supply that contends with a whole foods isle. Each bar garnishes their fancy drinks with these fresh sprigs of mint, spearmint, basil, and things you and I probably didn’t even know existed.
This was a particularly fun article to research and I think I made the most of it. I happened to go to Cure during their fabulous happy hour, which serves 5 dollar simple cocktails from 5:00-7:00 every day of the week. Of course, I couldn’t pass up this awesome deal so I ordered one of their Pimm’s Cups, a classic drink that most gin lovers adore. As a gin enthusiast I was very pleased with my cucumber infused light and summery drink. Nothing about it really tasted all that different from the Pimm’s Cups I’ve had at other bars and restaurants, but it was quite good. Unfortunately, the happy hour cocktails seem to miss out on the crazy mixology add-ins, but they are still exquisite cocktails.
When I visited Tonique I knew immediately which drink to choose, their “Blanche Dubois” was calling my name. As a Streetcar Named Desire fan, they had me at the name of this cocktail, but when I read further, their menu description continued to steal my heart. Fresh strawberries, mint, Death’s Door gin, Senor Curacao, house-made orgeat, and lemon juice, definitely a “girly” cocktail (a name I hate), but I must admit that those are my favorite. The Blanche Dubois was delicious, subtly sweet and tart and perfect for a hot July afternoon. It also had a larger dose of liquor than I anticipated. Beware: it’s not as girly as it sounds, swig back a few of these and you will definitely be stumbling a bit. Aside from their fabulous Tennessee Williams inspired cocktail, Bar Tonique has just about the prettiest ice cubes I've ever seen. Granted, that is quite a strange compliment, but these large perfectly square, crystal clear cubes really did add some pizzazz to these cocktails.
Between Cure and Bar Tonique, there are not too many differences. Obviously their cocktail menus provide variety of different house-made concoctions, but both have such extensive menus that you really can find something you like at either bar. However, their drink specials luckily do not conflict with one another. Unlike Cure, which has a daily happy hour between 5-7, Tonique has a daily special of one drink a day that is discounted all day long. Wednesday is the only day that has a time restraint. Every Wednesday they offer 30% off select bottles for wine tastings between 6pm and 8pm, not bad.
So if you’re bummed you couldn't attend Tales, head over to Cure and Tonique and order up some spectacular mixology cocktails!