Empire State South has Atlanta buzzing, both literally and figuratively, and their coffee and wine programs are part of the allure. Jonathan Pascual is the guru behind the coffee bar, stocked with Counter Culture beans, and has a unique concoction to battle the Atlanta heat – “Georgia Coffee: Served in a 16-ounce Mason jar, the iced coffee comes creamed and sweetened. Shaken not stirred.” True enough, he employs a cocktail shaker to whip this one into a frothy delight. The coffee menu also lists our very favorite espresso preparation, the Cortado – “Served in a Gibraltar glass, the 4-ounce beverage is for someone who wants to taste the espresso but not be overwhelmed by steamed milk.”
On the wine side, wine director Steven Grubbs has assembled a delightful list, heavy on Burgundy and Riesling. We’ve already added them to our Thirsty Guide to Atlanta, and if you get there soon, you can take advantage of one of the best wine deals in town – a bottle of Claude Genet Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Champagne for $40. This is a crazy good price, and a crazy good wine (see Grower Champagne, AKA Farmer Fizz), with a nose of toasted almonds and yeasty biscuits (is there such a thing?), followed by hints of vanilla, baked apples, a burst of lemon, and a finish that manages to be both crisp and creamy. No telling how much of this they have left in stock, but it’s a steal. And works wonders alongside their peach tart dessert.
We’ve yet to tap into the cocktail list in any significant way, but if the coffee and wine are any indication (not to mention the nice selection of American whiskey you can see behind the bar), there are delights there as well.
A peek inside. First, the coffee bar and the Georgia Coffee all wrapped up:
Then, the selection behind the bar, and by the glass:
Finally, a happy table, graced with Claude Genet Champagne, oh, and some food!
Right on the heels of our post In Praise of Drinking Locally, the fine folks at Cypress Street Pint & Plate in midtown Atlanta hosted a “local tap takeover” Beer Geek Tuesday, that brought together some great Georgia brewers – Jailhouse Brewing, Sweetwater, Terrapin, Red Brick, and the most recent newcomers to the local beer scene, Wild Heaven and O’Dempseys. This was probably the first ever event to feature all of these Georgia beers in one place (not to mention having the actual brewers or brewery reps on hand to participate), and Wes and the Cypress crew did a great job pushing forward the cause of drinking local beer. Here’s to more events in the future that celebrate our great local products and the people behind them.
At Cypress, we had the pleasure of meeting a few of the gentlemen behind Hotoberfest – DO NOT MISS this big event on October 2, which will feature a number of great Georgia beers (including special casks – Sweetwater Cask IPA with black pepper, anyone?) among the hundreds of stellar beers “on tap.” Oh, and the one and only Ale Sharpton was in the house that night, too – please check out his new blog for unbridled beer enthusiasm.
Atlanta is fortunate to have two major coffee roasters in town who are more than happy to give the coffee-drinking masses opportunities to learn more about beans and brewing. Counter Culture Coffee, who supplies places like Octane with a variety of beans, has weekly “cuppings” – every Friday at 10am – at their King Plow Arts Center facility. And YOU are invited. It’s a fun experience, and you will definitely learn a few things from David and the crew – each week is different depending on what beans are coming in the door. A few hours later each Friday (1pm), across town in Decatur at their Dancing Goats Coffee Bar, Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters is running their own cuppings – and you’re invited to those, too.
Now, if that’s not enough, both of those roasters also go above and beyond with other learning opportunities every once and a while. Batdorf & Bronson just so happened to offer a free “Coffee 101” tour of their roasting facility this week, and Thirsty South was there to learn from Jason, “head of Bean Knowledgy.” We learned about the primary coffee growing regions, the microlot challenges in Ethiopia right now, processing and roasting techniques, and most importantly got to witness “coffee-roasting Elvis.” Actually, Jason probably topped Elvis with some highly caffeinated insights – where else will you get a comparison of Central American vs. African coffees as a battle between Bob Marley and Mike Tyson? You heard me – Central American coffees tend to go in the direction of laid-back, mellow flavors; while African coffees tend towards “all up in your face, bite your ears off” power. Don’t believe me? Give a few of the different Batdorf & Bronson coffees a spin, and see if you can spot Iron Mike.
Here are a few photos to give you a feel for the Batdorf & Bronson roasting facility. First up, industrial chic on Carroll Street off Marietta Road:
Beans – some very happy and buzzed “trash cans”, followed by Ethiopian Harar ready to brew (good stuff, we tasted this at the end of the tour):
And to top it off, the veritable crema on the espresso, a collage: (clockwise from upper right) pouring into the aeropress, Jason demonstrating superior pumping action, “coffee-roasting Elvis,” and a beautiful machine – the Probat small batch roaster:
For more information, please visit the websites of Counter Culture Coffee and Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters. Call ahead or email them to confirm cuppings and other events.
The Westside Provisions District is coming into its own as an epicenter of Atlanta food and drink. Bacchanalia / Star Provisions, Ormsby’s, Abbatoir, Yeah! Burger, JCT, Figo, Taqueria del Sol, and now… Perrine’s Wine Shop (or Marchand de Vin as they say in France and on the door of this Atlanta boutique). The shop is in soft open mode right now, with a grand opening slated for September 24, but the racks are full of wine and Perrine Prieur, formerly sommelier at JOEL, is on hand to dispense advice on the carefully chosen selection of wine in the shop.
The first thing of note as you walk in is that the shop is divided into “Old World” and “New World” sections, each of which is ordered from “light” to “full” and white to red, complemented by a small selection of sparkling and sweet/dessert wines. The Old World section is heavily weighted towards France, but selections from Spain and Italy are also numerous. The New World section is weighted towards the US, with a good number of South American wines peppered throughout. The Old World/New World split is a somewhat arbitrary distinction (but what wine grouping isn’t really?) , as certainly there are wines from the US that have an “old world” feel and some from Europe that have a “new world” feel, but the Old/New break works as a basic geographic split given the further context of the “light” to “full” ordering on the shelves. The “light/full” ordering also enables the shop to avoid breaking out all of the various varietals mixed in throughout the shop.
The selections are mostly smaller names and often from wine regions that are not commonly seen in Atlanta (Gaillac anyone? Why, yes, thank you). This is NOT the shop for someone looking to pick up a bottle of Beringer or even Veuve for that matter – but many of the somewhat obscure wines are imported by well regarded specialists such as Jon David Headrick, which is a good sign for wine buyers that quality awaits beneath the cork. That, and of course, having the advice of Perrine as you browse the store should make for a successful wine buying experience.
There is a small selection of imported cheeses, and even, what is this? A grape-based skin care line? Hopefully the vines can do for the skin what they do for the palate and the soul.
Perrine’s Wine Shop
1168 Howell Mill Road, Suite B
Atlanta, GA 30318