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Return of the gueridon

By Jeff Josenhans | Drink Shrink

Generally speaking, when we think of tableside restaurant service we envision a server in a 1980s jacket and tie tossing Caesar salads or flambéing your dessert at what used to be a fancy restaurant. This style of service has become nearly extinct.

Who would have thought that getting a number after paying at the cash register, and then waiting for your food to arrive, would be commonplace in trendy, fashionable restaurants? With the rise in restaurant labor costs, that is certainly the case — for better or worse.

The crafting of the Vieux Carre is as fun to watch as it is to drink. (Photo by Morgan M. Hurley)

This may be the case for restaurants, but quietly on the other side of the world the restaurant trolley was making a huge comeback in the form of a cocktail cart at one of London’s most renowned bars — The Connaught Bar.

They received multiple international awards in 2016, largely due to the innovation of their Martini Trolley. While restaurants may have cut out service touches that used to be commonplace, select cocktail bars like The Connaught in London, Gen Yamamoto in Tokyo, and The Aviary in Chicago have been moving in the opposite direction — adding an extra, unexpected service element to your cocktail experience.

Like the Connaught Bar, which is also located inside an iconic luxury hotel, the Grant Grill has now designed and implemented a cocktail gueridon to service guests in the U.S. Grant Hotel lobby Thursdays-Fridays, from 4 to 7 p.m. The menu is entirely based around the Vieux Carre cocktail, traditionally rooted in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

The cocktail is made with exclusive spirits including Remy Martin 1738, Russell’s Reserve Rye, Carpano Antica and bitters. Chef de Bar Cory Alberto has created a service experience off of this brass and gold-adorned cocktail trolley, featuring a menu that serves the traditional Vieux Carre, but also offers other interpretations inspired by historical squares and quarters around the world.

One such interpretation is the Gaslamp Quarter cocktail, with obvious ties to San Diego, which features Mt. Gay Black Barrel, El Silencio Mezcal, Torres 10 Year Brandy, Noilly Prat, and Domaine Santé Riesling Nectar.

The public is invited to come experience the U.S. Grant Cocktail Gueridon, and live music is offered on Fridays and Saturdays in conjunction with cart service. Pre-dinner or after work, it’s worth the trip.

—Level 2 CMS Sommelier, Master Mixologist and Cicerone Jeff Josenhans has changed the dynamic in The Grant Grill Downtown from a classic institution to an exciting lounge and elegant restaurant. Follow his drink-related posts on Instagram @jeffjosenhans.

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