Pouring Ribbons, from the men of Alchemy Consulting—founder Toby Maloney, Joaquín Simó (Death & Company, Tales of the Cocktail 2012 Bartender of the Year), Troy Sidle (The Violet Hour), and Jason Cott—may be a formidable cocktail bar. But that's not all its proprietors wanted it to be. Joaquín Simó told us that he wanted any kind of drinker to feel comfortable at the bar, not to feel like they're at a temple of mixology where they're obligated to order a cocktail. "You're not doing us a disservice by ordering a beer. I have awesome beers!"
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But the cocktails are what drew us there, of course. The Pouring Ribbons lineup has 15 house cocktails and as many classics. They're listed out in a menu, but then given two additional data points. Beneath each listing are two sliding scales: "refreshing" to "spiritous" on one axis; "comforting" to "adventurous" on one underneath.
And in the front of the menu, they're plotted out on a graph—you can see at a glance where your drink choice lies, and what clusters near it. That's a great deal of information delivered in a glance, and as someone who really does think of her drinks on those two axes—do I want a boozy drink right now, or a lighter one? Classic, or a little out there?—I feel as if I'm saving a lot of time (and bartender attention) seeing their cocktails laid out this way.
It makes sense at Pouring Ribbons in particular, where drinks list ingredients that even reasonably experienced drinkers might not recognize. And if they do, it's still not immediately apparent how they come together. Is a drink with corn milk and two bourbons on the light size, or the boozier? Their chart helps decode a bit.
Beyond the house cocktails, the menu is a familiar roster of classics, which Pouring Ribbons intentionally gives equal billing as their own inventions. "We're also interested in establishing our versions of these drinks—not to deviate from the classics, but to show you what our Manhattan looks like, or what our daiquiri looks like."
Nor were they interested in a few concession cocktails for "less serious" drinkers—"We didn't want to half-ass the vodka drink. In fact, that's the one I tell people to really not screw up, because if you can't do a vodka drink, why on earth should I trust you with gin? Or whiskey?"
Check out six of the Pouring Ribbons drinks in the slideshow above, a collection as distinct in appearance as in composition. "We literally draw the drinks as we come up with them," says Simó—"we sketch them out. A round of drinks coming to a table should all have distinctive visual appeal."