Change. Change is scary. Most of us would rather deal with the devil we know than venture out into the unknown. The same holds true for the things we consume – food and beverage-wise. Some folks drink the same beer their entire lives, eat at the same restaurant, every Friday, for 30 years. Because that’s what they do. It’s not wrong. It’s safe. We like safe. As humans we tend to crave order. It’s in our nature. Being adventurous, though, doesn’t always mean getting exotic by eating strange, bizarre delicacies.
When I was 5 years old or so, I was sitting on the stool in the kitchen of my family apartment; where I always sat watching my father make dinner for us. This time he was eating something yellow-brown-ish and slimy (my 5-year-old POV) out of a small jar. He offered one to me. I refused. But he was enjoying these things and I trusted him. I finally got the nerve to try. He reached the fork over, oil dripped on the counter, a little got on my sneaker, and I bit. OILY, MARINATED, SWEET, TENDER AND DELICIOUS. I wanted, no needed, another. What was I so afraid of? I looked to him with eager eyes for another bite. Eager eyes turned to disappointment. What I had tasted was the last of the jar. There were no more.
Behind the bar at Statesman Tavern we select our spirits carefully, tasting each one multiple times, to get the best ingredients we believe will make our cocktails the best they can be. Our specialty cocktails are poured over (pun intended), tested, tweaked, and re-tested. Each ingredient means something to the finished product. Nothing is superfluous. There’s meaning in everything we do.
Take The Burnsider, for instance: muddled lemon and cherry, Angostura bitters, Benedictine, Smith & Cross Rum, Mezcal wash.
This drink goes along with our vision of creating a Contemporary American Tavern by taking a classic cocktail (The Old Fashioned) and updating it without compromising its integrity. Instead of Whiskey, we use Rum. We use Rum because it’s delicious, but also because of its historical significance to Bristol. Good or bad, mostly bad, the Colonial molasses trade marks an important time in the story of this town. African natives were taken as slaves from their country on ships to British territories in the Americas, sugar cane was brought to New England from these territories and distilled into Rum, Rum (and other goods) were brought to Africa to barter for slaves, and so on. So, we use Rum, not as exploitation, but as an acknowledgment. The name of the drink is partly ironic. Ambrose Burnside was not just known for his super-duper facial hair. He was also a politician in Rhode Island (Governor and US Senator). Well known and well liked, yet was involved in this dark history. Also, the “burn” comes from the smoky Mezcal wash – spraying the glass with a spritzer.
There are reasons why we don’t carry certain brands. It is not a slight to those who like them. They are fine spirits. But most other bars have them. Statesman Tavern doesn’t strive to be “most other bars.”
There are so many choices out there, we want to try it all. We’ve researched and studied and tasted to find lesser known, equally as good if not superior liquors for our bar. We care about what we drink and what we provide our guests. We are like the father in the story. Our guests are sitting on the stool. If you trust us, we will do our best to supply high quality and thoughtful cocktails that also happen to be freakin’ delicious.