#54 – DRINKSHOP at W Atlanta Downtown – Meeting Southern Living-Featured Bartender Eric Simpkins

I first read about DRINKSHOP and bartender Eric Simpkins in the March 2010 issue of Southern Living in their article, “The South’s Best Bartenders.” (While I can’t find the entire write-up about Eric online, here is a link to a mini-feature – click here.) Trying new things is the idea of this blogsite, and trying new drinks is a fun by-product, so when my hubby and I decided to have drinks tonight after seeing “Lookingglass Alice” at the Alliance Theatre, I knew exactly where I wanted to go!

Eric (pictured below – on left) is a genuinely cool guy and so much more than a bartender. How many bartenders spend the evening with you, chatting about different drinks, techniques, and their background? He moved back to Atlanta after graduating from culinary school in New York City. You can tell, when you talk to him, that he is passionate about what he does and about making delicious and unique libations for his customers. He is also an innovator and approaches making a drink the way a chef approaches creating a new dish (a nod to his culinary background).

Here’s what we drank: Mitchell (pictured – far right), another fabulous bartender behind the bar, made my hubby (a gin lover) an original concoction consisting of gin, egg white, Velvet Falernum (don’t ask me what it is – I don’t know!), orange flower water, fresh lime juice, mint and soda. All I can say is: yum! When I announced that I don’t drink gin, that was an immediate cue for Eric to make me – what else? – a gin cocktail. I have been converted – apparently, I do like gin. Well, gin cocktails, because now I know there’s a difference. He made me a Gin Gin Mule: gin, fresh lime juice, mint, fresh-squeezed ginger, soda and simple syrup. When peaches are in season – soon, I hope! – I’m going back to try some of his Georgia peach drink specialties. I’m especially interested in the one that uses black tea-infused bourbon. Delish!

A few fun facts about DRINKSHOP, as if you’re not already convinced that you must go: there are no soda guns or pre-made anything. Fruit is pressed for juice; ice is hand-cut; egg whites are separated for sours; ginger root is squeezed for ginger beer. There is no fruit-flavored vodka – but they have vodka and they have fruit, so they’ll make your drink for you the right way. They make their own infusions and tinctures (we got to see the beginnings of a cardamom-infused vodka tincture they were creating that day). In short, everything is fresh and the meticulous attention to detail makes this more than just a bar.

So…head on downtown to DRINKSHOP – ask for Eric and Mitchell, and tell them 365Atlanta sent you!

WHERE: DRINKSHOP at W Atlanta Downtown – 45 Ivan Allen, Jr. Blvd., Atlanta, GA 30308

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