The East Bay cocktail scene continues to rise with Honor Bar and the New Easy
Summer-Jane Bell not only created the menu but was hands-on with space design elements, painting stars as she crafted the menu. Her winning bartender team includes Yael Amyra (Circolo, Burritt Room), Ian Adams (15 Romolo, Orson), David Ruiz (Mr. Smith), and Morgan Schick (Nopa, Michael Mina).
Bell's menu is decidedly playful, reminiscent of American childhood... but with booze. The festive theme starts as you receive Chinese take-out boxes of fresh-popped popcorn, while bites of mini sliders and grilled cheese sandwiches are passed around. I had the most fun with Mad Hatter ($10). Sailor Jerry rum and a spicy ginger soda are obvious mates, but the bright orange, creamy drink surprises with golden raisin puree and carrot juice. Bright and healthy, spice and sweetness (but not too much) make it a delightful alternative to an orange creamsicle.
Gift Horse ($9) was probably the most balanced, making fine use of Hayman's Old Tom gin, which I haven't seen much on cocktail menus in awhile. Dolin Blanc vermouth and Bell's winter bitters made with a tequila base, unfold in floral, dry layers with notes of cranberry and fennel from the bitters.
Winter Sideshow ($11) offers the most spectacle, even if I prefer the former two drinks. The drink will change with the seasons, a base of Beefeater gin and Pür Spiced Blood Orange liqueur the backdrop for Angostura-flambeed kumquats, lit before you.
3255 Lakeshore Ave., Oakl., 510-338-4911, www.easy510.com
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