— these establishments teach you that you only think you knew how to drink! As featured in the current issue of H Monthly out of LA, here's number 2 of 3 featured from my NYC column for www.h-monthly.com
111 Reade Street at W. Broadway
Ever walk in a bar, sit down and have no idea what you want to drink? Ever wonder what would happen if you blurted out Vodka, clean, crisp, refreshing, full, spicy and savory? Most bartenders barely have the time to hear your drink order over the din of the crowd, but what if you found a bar where the bartenders cared so much that they wrote those words down, created a “bespoke cocktail list,” and almost read your mind…well, then you’d have found Ward III.
The brainchild of three bartenders who worked for over ten years in the same TriBeCa neighborhood, Ward III is something remarkable, something ingenious and kinda mind-blowing all at the same time. When I first heard about the concept it sounded elitist and somewhat wacky, what I found was a chill, dark long bar where the bartenders offered up a menu of unique drinks and an oddly small list of choices under, Spirit-Texture-Spice-Flavor and Fruit. What?
I asked Kenny the bartender what I was supposed to do here, and he graciously explained that their menu was completely hand-made to your specifications. Whatever flavors you want they provide, freshly made ingredients are whisked together before your eyes and no two cocktails are ever the same. I decided to challenge him and gave him the above list and what arrived was a refreshing, frothy, silky concoction of ingredients and textures I swear I’d never tasted before…it had no name, but it was all mine. I knew this because Kenny slipped me a coaster and encouraged me to fill out my name, the date and the ingredients he listed for me. He explained that when people love a drink and want it again, they file it away under your name and it’s waiting for you next time you stop by…the next time, and every time—my own special drink nestled away behind the bar waiting for me!
Speaking to one of the bartender owners, Michael, he explained, “In addition to our regular menu, and offering any drink you want, we also offer you flavors—you choose and we make it. The list puts the focus on you---there’s so many lists, we wanted to re-democratize the process to combine the flavors to make a good impression.” The enormous challenge is played out again and again each night hundreds of times, fresh ingredients change every day and often regulars bring their own like fresh verbena to add to the mix.
“We developed a vocabulary with people….people would say ‘make me something’—how many times have you said that?” Michael asks me as I sat there nodding my head, “We codified that vocabulary. To us the classic cocktail is irrelevant, they should be fun—and unique, and we wanted the drinks themselves and the experiments to have fun.” Fun is definitely on the menu here, I can’t wait to return for my special drink again soon! www.ward3tribeca.com