March 27, 2014

Barrel 31 raises a glass to whiskey

Barrel 31, which is scheduled to open Monday, pays homage to whiskey from its moonshines to single malt scotches to its chef-driven menu. Owner Chris Ridler took over the former Velvet Dog space, a 1880s-era red brick building at 400 E. 31st St., in mid-December and has spent the last few months working on the concept.

The new Barrel 31 pays homage to whiskey — from its moonshines to its single malt scotches to its chef-driven menu.

Owner Chris Ridler took over the former Velvet Dog space, an 1880s-era red brick building at 400 E. 31st St., in mid-December and has spent the past few months working on the new theme. Barrel 31 is scheduled to open Monday.

Whiskeys come under different headings: “Aged with grace or seldom seen,” along with straight bourbon, wheated, cask strength and single barrel.

Ridler had planned to stock 60 varieties of whiskey and bourbons but has already upped that to 85. Some of the more “seldom seen” choices will include Jefferson’s Ocean (whiskey that has aged at sea for a slight sea salt flavor).

Barrel 31 also will offer “heavy pour” cocktails such as the Curl Up Rye (with Rittenhouse Rye, absinthe moonshine and old-time aromatic bitters), as well as barrel-aged cocktails (aged a minimum of two weeks in small oak barrels sitting on the bar back).

It also will serve other spirits, wines, boilermakers, beers in bottles and in 12-ounce and 24-ounce cans, whiskey flights and a “Paper Bag Special” (a bagged beer selection randomly grabbed by the bartender and sold at a discounted price).

A weekday happy hour menu will run from 3 p.m. to 6:47 p.m. and include a PB (a pint, a specialty burger and a Jameson for $14), $4 edamame or bloody mary oyster shooters, $5 Gouda ale fondue or calamari fries and $6 confit chicken wings or pub nachos, as well as drink specials. Ridler said 6:47 p.m. was rumored to be the time Tennessee whiskey distiller Jack Daniel died.

Executive chef Austin Carpenter has created a menu that is designed to pair well with the drink selections but that also stands on its own.

Burgers are made with a blend of brisket, chuck, steak trimmings and duck fat. Other menu items will include duck-fat fried chicken, salmon en papillote, short rib osso bucco and pork belly with a bourbon maple glaze, along with desserts such as its Irish Float (Guinness and housemade Jameson ice cream).

A Saturday and Sunday brunch will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will include bread pudding french toast and Eggs Ben-Addiction (bacon fat biscuit, seared pork belly, fried eggs and hollandaise sauce).

Ridler’s wife, designer Kristen Ridler of KMR Design, took the space down to its original brick bones for a “rustic contemporary” look — think plaster chips on the original brick walls combined with artworks with a fun twist and a leather-topped bar.

The top level of Barrel 31 will be available for private events and parties. The outdoor patio also is being revamped for a spring opening.

Ridler also owns two other Martini Corner venues, Sol Cantina and the Drop Bar Bistro. He also is a partner in Zócalo Mexican Cuisine Tequileria on the Country Club Plaza.

Northland Lauren Alexandra is closing

After nearly seven years in the Northland’s Briarcliff Village, Lauren Alexandra is closing.

The store, at 4145 N. Mulberry Drive, is scheduled to shut down at 5 p.m. Sunday. It is having a “moving sale,” with items up to 75 percent off.

“We have tried to reinvent ourselves out here with a totally different concept,” said owner Pamela DiCapo. “We’ve had birthday parties, story time. But there just wasn’t enough traffic up here to justify us paying rent for another location.”

DiCapo plans to concentrate on her original Brookside store at 322 W. 63rd St. The shop, which opened in October 1994, sells clothing, accessories and gifts for babies and young children. It also has a design center focused on baby and children’s rooms, as well as bedding for children and adults.

DiCapo will expand the Brookside design center to include whole-room design for bedrooms, living rooms and family rooms, including accent pieces, lighting, wallpaper and area rugs.

She also will expand her girls’ clothing to size 4 and offer more accessories and party supplies.

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