At the Bar: Tavern in the Village

What’s the best way to inject fun into a meeting? Hold it at a bar, of course. It certainly worked during a planning session for Turning Point’s 10th Annual An Evening Among Friends, recently convened at Tavern in the Village. It was fitting—the June 24 event is billed as The Art of the Cocktail. So I couldn’t help but order a cocktail as we got down to business.

Now, I must admit to not knowing anything about Tavern in the Village other than there used to be an Applebee’s and then a Jose Pepper’s on that corner of the Prairie Village shops. So it was a pleasant surprise to discover owner Kelly Manning has tapped David Smuckler to head the bar program. Smuckler won the 2007 Greater Kansas City Bartending Competition back when he worked at Morton’s; he then tripped off to Atlanta for a while, but has now returned to craft an intriguing cocktail menu.

David Smuckler in action at Tavern in the Village (photo swiped from the restaurants web site)

Smuckler’s drinks list is all fresh juices, herbs and top-shelf, mainstream spirits, making it hard to choose. I was initially tempted by the Peach New Fashion (Maker’s Mark bourbon, Aperol, tawny port, muddled orange and peach bitters), but then settled on the Rosewater Citrus Rickey. Rickeys date back to the late nineteenth century, when gin, lime juice and club soda first took up company in a drink Dale DeGroff’s The Craft of the Cocktail calls “a jumping-off point for more of-the-moment, sexy cocktails.” Smuckler’s version, made with G’Vine gin, rosewater and grapefruit bitters, is both of-the-moment and tasty enough to last.

Had I been able to stay for a second round, I would have tried the Rosemary Monk, if only because it features one of my, and apparently Smuckler’s, favorite combos—gin and Green Chartreuse. Smuckler added cucumber, mint, rosewater, lime juice and honeydew melon to the duo in his GKCBC-winning entry all those years ago, and here he matches it with lime juice, strawberries and lavender simple syrup. Or maybe I would have gone for the Thai Tavern Julep (Basil Hayden’s bourbon, Thai basil and cucumber over cracked ice). Or perhaps the Blueberry Cilantro Margarita (Jose Silver tequila, elderflower liqueur, lime juice, fresh blueberries and cilantro) my table mates were enjoying.

When’s the next meeting?

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~ by fooddrinklife on April 5, 2011.

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