If you’re like me and work Uptown you have seen the construction site of Essex for what has seemed like an eternity. Located in The Square at the base of the Omni hotel at Trade and Tryon, the project has seen its share of delays. But with it’s opening now inevitable — it’s time to explore what Essex is all about.
When I first wrote about Essex, it came across more of an upscale restaurant fitting right in with the business crowd. Perhaps my perception was off, perhaps it was still a work in progress, but as it sits now, it has evolved into a cocktail lounge and gastropub.
They are sticking to a world flavors theme and keeping influences from all over the world but there seems to be a heavy cocktail focus I didn’t get before. Personally I couldn’t be more excited as I am sure you all know by now how I feel about Uptown’s need for more mature establishments.
I had the pleasure of meeting Todd Bayley, Essex’s head mixologist and he previewed some cocktails as well as the menu. I was immediately struck by the accessibility and price points of the cocktails. The main menu will consist of 12-15 cocktails ranging from $9-$15 in price. To me these numbers are perfect.
Here are two cocktails that will be a hit
The Rob Collins No. 2 is Todd’s take on a Tom Collins. Consisting of gin, mint simple syrup, fresh lemon & lime juice, cucumber and a bit of Prosecco, this cocktail was instantly refreshing. The cucumber obviously added an incredible quality that balanced the citrus. I can see people on their patio, people watching the Trade and Tryon intersection and sipping this one.
The other is called a Pisco Sour, the official cocktail of Chile and Peru. This one is Pisco, simple syrup, lemon & lime juice, bitters and egg whites. This one was definitely a bit sour and different, however it was still incredibly accessible.
Essex plans to be open for all crowds: lunch, happy hour, dinner and late night. What’s interesting about this is Todd has needed to craft his menu around being accessible to all these different crowds.
With its location alone Essex will be a popular spot and they could have gone safe and easy. It’s incredibly refreshing to see a creative menu that balances familiar, new and wild.
More updates on the food as the menu progresses so check back here soon.