Rhode Island’s Best Cocktail + Bar Food Spots

Thursday, February 28, 2013


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The perfect pour is in the house every night at Cook & Brown. Photo: Cook & Brown

More than at any other time in our fair state’s history, we have a plethora of sublime dining options when it comes to eating out. And so when it comes to our favorite pastime -- a cocktail and a nibble at a nice, upscale bar – we have more great choices than ever. Here are our five picks for an after-work, or after-anything, get together.

Cook and Brown, Providence

It might take two hands to count how many different restaurants have inhabited the space now graced by Cook and Brown Public House. It was a breakfast place at one point, something else before that. But Cook and Brown has comfortably established itself as one of two fabulous eateries at this far end of Hope Street (the other being Chez Pascal, of course). Of particular note is the bar program here, which was just recognized by the prestigious James Beard Foundation as a semifinalist for outstanding bar program (winners will be chosen in May). Headed by mixologist extraordinaire Jennifer Ferreira, the bar here features an excellent spirits selection accented by a small but extraordinary choice of cocktails. Each is made to order with precisely-measured top-notch ingredients mixed with a nod to authentic style. The Sparrow, for example, mixes gin, lime, apricot, maple, bitters and allspice into a palate-awakening experience. Complement a cocktail with Chef Nemo Bolin’s creations – crispy pork belly is a recent favorite – and you’ve got a winning evening. 959 Hope St, 273-7274. www.cookandbrown.com

The Dorrance, Providence

Since it opened just over a year ago, the Dorrance has been the star of the Rhode Island food scene. Like a grande dame who knows exactly who she is and what she offers, this restaurant offers the best, highest-quality food and cocktails with no apologies. And yet, at the same time, it always seems to be evolving, experimenting, and playing with its identity. The result is an always exciting, always new experience. What can you count on? Perfectly mixed, vintage-style cocktails that challenge and awaken your palate to flavors and complexities you didn’t imagine could exist in fluid form. And from the kitchen, expertly prepared snacks that do the same – the simplicity of Butter Roasted Cauliflower will amaze you; the citrusy tang and heat of the Peruvian-style Ceviche is delightful. Safe to say you’re in expert hands at the Dorrance. This is how it should be. 60 Dorrance St, 521-6000. www.thedorrance.com.

Circe, Providence

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An artisan cheese plate is just one delicious bit of food to sample at Circe Restaurant/Bar in Providence. Photo: Circe

Circe (say “SIR-say”) owner Carlo Carlozzi held court at the bar at Ten Prime Steak and Sushi for ten years before he ventured out on his own and opened one of Providence’s newest hot spots. Fun, upscale and full of energy – much like Carlo himself – Circe features the winning combination of good, upscale cocktails (and lots of them) and tasty, well-executed menu items. Popular combinations with clever names rule the cocktail menu – the Hope I Get Fired or the Queen Bee martinis, to wit. We’re guessing Circe also feature’s Providence’s most expensive cocktail, Circe’s Elixir, which is made with Louis VIII and will run you a cool $180. You won’t need to spend nearly that much to be wowed by the kitchen. Chef Simon Keating, formerly of the iconic XO Café, turns out a bar menu second to none, featuring the like of charcuterie and cheeses, salads, sliders, mussels, calamari and more. If nothing else, expect a vibrant bar scene and great people watching too. 50 Weybosset St, 437-8991. www.circerestaurantbar.com

The Eddy, Providence

When bar manager Jay Carr departed The Dorrance this past December to open his own bar, we were puzzled. Why would you leave such a revered restaurant to go out on your own? Well it turns out that Carr’s passion for cocktails and his desire to tend bar in a smaller, more intimate setting drove him to the Eddy. From everything we can tell, it’s working beautifully. Carr’s signature attention to detail can be found in every cocktail that he vigorously shakes. One recent delight was a Blackberry Whiskey Smash – bourbon, lemon, mint and housemade fresh blackberry syrup, all perfectly balanced and mixed into something that was at once old fashioned and thoroughly modern. We sipped it alongside an order of warm, soft pretzels served with maple butter, and crostini topped with black olive tapenade, Narragansett Creamery ricotta and honey. Needless to say, we were beyond happy when we left. 95 Eddy St, 831-3339. www.eddybar.com

Fluke, Newport

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The drinks are beautiful and always just right at Newport's Fluke.

Fluke Wine, Bar, and Kitchen is the official name of one of Newport’s most noteworthy places to have great cocktails and food. Note that “kitchen” comes last… that’s how seriously these guys take their bar service. Fluke offers a great selection of artisan and small-production wines…it’s likely you’ll find something you love here and spend ample time trying to find out how to get your hands on a bottle of your own. The wine list is complemented by signature cocktails and classic drinks created by Jerri Banks. And like any respectable menu, the cocktail menu here changes regularly, depending upon what’s in season (such as fruits for muddling and fresh-made juices, or herbs for flavoring or garnishing). We’re particularly fond of the Ocean Drive, which features gin, cucumber, lime and mint in a refreshing concoction perfect on a summer’s day. The kitchen features an excellent selection of small plates highlighting fresh and local seafood, as you might imagine, but offering a wide enough array to please just about anybody. We’re fans of the Crispy Local Oysters, the Roasted Coconut Shrimp and, when we’re feeling daring, the Fire Roasted Octopus. 48 Bowen’s Wharf, 849-7778. www.flukewinebar.com


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