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Pantry Crest launches winter cocktail menu


Photo via George Thompson

The Pantry Crest launches its new winter cocktail lineup tonight at 722 N. Palm St. On the menu:


Black Fizz: Sobieski Vodka, house-made cinnamon syrup, Summit Oatmeal Stout, Cote Mas Sparkling Rose

Vieux Carre: Old Grand Dad 100 High Rye Bourbon, Salignac Cognac, Dolin Sweet Vermouth, Dom Benedictine, Peychaud’s and Angostura Bitters

Apple Blossom: Clear Creek Apple Brandy, lemon juice, sugar, absinthe mist

Bijou: Bols Genever, Green Chartreuse, Dolin Genepy Des Alpes Liqueur, Dolin Sweet Vermouth, Regan’s Orange Bitters

Rum Runner: El Dorado 12 yr Demerara Rum, Clear Creek Blackberry Liqueur, orange juice, falernum, The Pantry’s Sausage Fest Hefeweizen by Stone’s Throw


Signature Cocktails

Two Pair: Broker’s Gin, Trimbach Pear Liqueur, Allspice Dram, lime juice

Requiem For A Drink: Prairie Wolf Dark, Pernod French Liqueur, Becherovka, orange juice, lemon juice, Peychaud’s and Regan’s Bitters

Winter Solstice: La Puerta Negra Reposado, grapefruit juice, falernum, Luxardo Fernet

Tetnis: Pig’s Nose Blended Scotch, Drambuie, lemon juice, honey, ginger beer, Lagavulin 16yr Scotch mist

Crest Fizz: Appleton V/X Jamaica Rum, cumin syrup, lime juice, cream egg white, Regan’s Orange Bitters

 … Read more >

Maduro Cigar Bar to reopen as 109 & Co. speakeasy


A somewhat vague Facebook page has been touting a new speakeasy concept headed to downtown Little Rock, and we finally have some details:

Maduro Cigar Bar & Lounge, owned by Michael Peace, is set to close mid-November and reopen as 109 & Co. at 109 Main Street sometime in early December. Maduro has been expanding their cocktail program (including adding a barrel-aged cocktail program) in recent months, so the shift to focus on more craft cocktails won’t be a big transition for the staff. Peace says he plans to re-open Maduro in another Little Rock location in 2015.

109 & Co. will be smoke free, so one of Peace’s first tasks with the renovation will be a deep clean to get the last traces of cigar smoke out of there.

“A lot of customers that are into cocktails don’t come in because of the smoke,” says Peace. “So it made sense to go completely non-smoking.”

Other renovations include rebuilding the bar, swapping out some seating and re-purposing the bar’s walk-in humidor as a room for barrel-aging cocktails. Peace has plans to eventually allow customers to purchase their own barrel.

While Peace describes the bar on Facebook as a modern-day … Read more >

Is this the last Cheerwine in Little Rock?

Sad soda news of the day:

My Arkansas Life colleague, Jordan Hickey, reports from Mugs Cafe in Argenta this morning that their small stock of Cheerwine and other artisan sodas may soon be on the way out in favor of glass bottles of more in-demand sodas. Grab ’em while you can!

Cheerwine. So rare, so perfect.

Cheerwine. So rare, so perfect.

What is Cheerwine, you ask? Only the cherry soda nectar of Gods straight from North Carolina. It’s hard to find outside the East Coast, where it’s something of a local legend. It also tastes surprisingly good with a little whiskey.

I was surprised when I first noticed it in stock at Mugs and am sad to see it go (though not totally surprised by lack of demand).

Anyone out there with a hot tip on where this occasional Cheerwine junkie can still get their fix in Little Rock?… Read more >

Rock Town’s rum hitting stores, more products on the way

Are you a rum-and-cola drinker wanting to keep their bar cart stocked with local goods? Keep an eye out at local liquor stores for the latest Rock Town release, Rock Town Barrel Aged Rum.

Rock Town Barrel Aged Rum

Rock Town Barrel Aged Rum

Like the rest of their line, the rum is distilled, aged and bottled at their Little Rock distillery. The stuff is made of dark brown, pure cane sugar, aged in leftover whiskey casks for 10 months and clocks in at 90 proof.

If you’ve taken a tour of the distillery lately (or just dropped by the tasting room) you may have already tried the stuff, which has been available at Rock Town for the last month or so. This week, bottles will be heading to area stores via distributors for sale en masse.

The rum is not a mellow spiced rum, so expect a little more punch with this variety.

Rock Town currently distributes in 10 states and in the UK. Next on the horizon for the distillery is a single-malt whiskey and a sour mash version of their bourbon to join the ranks of their whiskey, vodka, gin and Arkansas Lightning line.… Read more >

Cocktail lovers rejoice: Pink House Alchemy available in Little Rock

Ginger shrub from Pink House Alchemy

Ginger shrub from Pink House Alchemy

For the love of all things local, there is a new option for cocktail lovers in Little Rock. Fayetteville-based Pink House Alchemy is now stocking some of their syrups and shrubs at Dandelion in the Arcade Building in River Market.

I’ve been dying to try more of their goods after interviewing owner Emily Lawson for an upcoming article. I picked up a bottle of the ginger shrub and was not disappointed.

What is a shrub, exactly? Made with botanicals or fruit, shrubs are a type of vinegar-based aged cocktail syrup. The ginger version is creamy and tangy and a little spicy. A spoonful goes a long way and mixes well with rum or bourbon to add a mellow sweetness and fun dimension without overpowering the drink. Can’t wait to play with a few mixes this weekend. Next on my list? The Pink House pineapple-rosemary shrub, which is a killer pairing for tequila.

Pick up the February issue of Arkansas Life for my full story on Pink House and a few recipes. And in the mean time, stop by Dandelion. It smells ah-maz-ing.

 … Read more >

Need booze for a crowd? Try a holiday punch

This article appears in the December issue of Arkansas Life magazine. Be sure to pick up a copy on stands next week!

Big holiday parties are an ideal time to knock the dust off that matching crystal bowl-and-ladle set. And to convince yourself that sugary drinks pair perfectly with turkey and pie. But punch doesn’t have to mean red, fizzy and sherbet-topped.

Punch—boozy, balanced and crowd-pleasing—is the grandfather of the modern cocktail. And while party-friendly libations have long been a syrupy mainstay at baby showers and brunches, modern bartenders are harking back to historic recipes to bring punch to its former honored place at the party.

Punch at Maxine's | Hatch & Mass Collective

Punch at Maxine’s | Hatch & Mass Collective

Think of the punch bowl as the water cooler of the party world: a gathering spot to refresh glasses and gossip. It’s a set-it-and-forget-it drink option that leaves a host free for more important tasks, like sneaking a few sips of his or her creation. And with so much drink to work with, punch is more forgiving if a mistake is made. A little of this and a splash of that can help liven up the equilibrium.

“We’ve put out punches for our parties at home … Read more >

Cheers: Aperitifs making a comeback in Arkansas

This story first appeared in the November issue of Arkansas Life. Check it out online here.

While there’s no denying that craft beer is having a moment in Arkansas, cocktail-lovers hold tight: Mixed drinks are having a mini-Renaissance of their own.

photo by arshia khan

photo by arshia khan

From booths at Big Orange and The Fold in Little Rock to the bar at Maxine’s Tap Room in Fayetteville, Arkansans are opening up to the possibilities of cocktails, and not just for happy hour. A resurgence in aperitifs—those tipplers used before a meal to stimulate the appetite—has slowly made its way to Little Rock, and bartenders are taking notice.

“It’s a trend that started around 2000,” says Darryl Downs, manager at the Capital Bar and Grill. “It started when the bartending world started to move toward the classics—pre-prohibition drinks. A lot of these aperitifs are main ingredients in classic cocktails, so that’s what you’re seeing locally and throughout the United States.”

Traditionally, aperitifs are dry or herbal, rather than sweet. Classics include champagne or gin-based cocktails or liqueurs and fortified wines such as Campari, Aperol, vermouth, Dubbonet and Lillet. And if those names don’t sound approachable, you’re not alone.

“A lot of the … Read more >

Big Orange Midtown is ready for your happy hour

I’ve been hearing good things about Big Orange since I first moved to Little Rock last fall.

But every time I was about to check the place out, their then freshly-opened sister-restaurant Local Lime would suck me in for a can’t-be-beat margarita and I was done for.

A lengthy wait for a seat combined with the drive out to West Little Rock was always enough to keep groups from heading that way, especially for happy hour.

The Barrel-Aged Negroni at Big Orange Midtown is happy hour-worthy

The Barrel-Aged Negroni at Big Orange Midtown is happy hour-worthy

Cracking open the menus for our first taste of Big Orange Midtown last week (review in the next issue of Sync!), I only had one true moment of disappointment: It was noon, on a weekday, my boss was sitting across from me and I had an interview scheduled that afternoon. In short: This was no drinking lunch.

That the Big Orange group of restaurants serve up some serious drinks is nothing new. Bar manager Lee Edwards and their team of bartenders are being constantly (and rightfully) praised for their work in bringing quality craft and classic cocktails

to central Arkansas. They also have a hard-to-beat beer lineup. Really, there is no good reason you’re … Read more >