There was a moment as I was savoring Remedy’s delicious RxPx cocktail when everything else became insignificant – any thoughts of calories, my tendency to shun “dessert-y” drinks, the bustling bar around me, the very fact that I was an adult – and I simply lapped up my ice cream like an 8-year-old kid. Such was the allure of Mate Hartai’s decadent drink, which perfectly suits the motif at recently opened Remedy on Lower Greenville Avenue.
Pedro Ximenez sherry is probably the richest player among the Spanish fortified wine’s many varieties, and its raisin-like notes make it a welcome garnish for vanilla ice cream. Hartai, the beverage master at Remedy and formerly of Libertine Bar, took that idea further, adding ice cream to an ounce of sherry and topping it with a balsamic cherry. The result is sinfully good. “It’s basically a Pedro Ximenez milk shake,” he says. “The three flavors play really well together, and then you have that cherry, and it’s, like – boom.”
Remedy’s approachable and unique bar program is inspired by the elegant soda fountains of the first half of the 20th century, before they settled into stuffy, Leave It To Beaver versions of themselves. And sodas (available straight-up) are the driving force behind Hartai’s compact, simply conceived drink menu, from its breezy highballs to the more adventurous wild cards and after-dinner treats like the RxPx.
At Libertine, Hartai’s wonkishly thoughtful enthusiasm for the craft made the neighborhood bar’s cocktail program an under-the-radar gem, so it’s not surprising to see him undertake Remedy’s mission with a similar zeal. The innovation here is the carbonated water itself, produced in a recirculating fountain that constantly roils the water to promote carbon dioxide absorption, which Hartai says gives it “the same level of carbonation as Topo Chico, if not better.”
The heightened fizz means Remedy’s bartenders can pump soda water into drinks without having to stir, which lets the drink retain more carbonation. In other words, upping the carbon levels itself becomes a mixing tool. (And skipping that step also means bartenders can theoretically get your drink to you faster. So there’s that.)
For the most part the cocktails pack a light-handed punch, the very definition of soft drinks to complement Remedy’s hearty comfort dishes like fried bologna sandwiches and chicken pot pie. But while the lineup has little to echo the obvious heft of, say, a Sazerac, its soda-jerk pep offers a spirited diversion.
Among the highlights: The French-75-like Bitter Lemon, with Meyer lemon syrup meeting gin, sparkling wine and the herbal bitter Suze; the sturdy Oleomaize, Hartai’s twist on a classic Corn and Oil employing dark rum and lime syrup in its Cuba Libre-like favor, and the playful Mustachio, whose white-chocolate shavings begin to descend into the drink about halfway through to be straw-slurped along with rye, cacao and an orgeat syrup made from pistachio and pumpkin seeds. And the fantastic spiced apple soda is one worth having on its own. “It’s like Christmas in a glass,” my pleasantly surprised friend Hollie said.
The mindfully seasonal menu is about to undergo a revamp with ingredients like Meyer lemons going out of season, but Remedy sports a sufficiently good foundation to ensure that happy days will be around for some time. The warmer weather to come should prove an ideal setting for soda drinks to shine. Not to mention sherry milkshakes.