Mystery Drinker: Dovetail
543 Cherry St., Macon
Where to enjoy a cocktail, food and conversation? Wonderfully, there are an increasing number of choices in Middle Georgia.This “Mystery Drinker” column is written to provide helpful information for your decisions.
Each place visited is rated from 1 to 4 glasses. What goes into a rating? Establishments are rated on their cocktail quality, atmosphere and vibe, taste and variety of food offered, whether I would want to return, and most importantly the staff’s attitude and knowledge of creating cocktails.
Cocktails using bourbon or gin are my favorites. After reading about cocktails using scotch whisky, an associate and I visited Dovetail to do some “research.” Sara greeted us as we sat at the bar.
Our first selection, a Penicillin cocktail, wasn’t on their cocktail list, but Sara only had to check if they had fresh ginger on hand; they did. She then asked if we had a preference in the blended scotch, and if we wanted a smoky single malt as an accent. We settled on Johnnie Walker Black Label for the blend and a Laphroaig for the smoky accent.
Then the work began. Sara mashed the fresh ginger at the bottom of a cocktail shaker, adding ice, the blended scotch, lemon juice and honey syrup. This was shaken and strained over a large square ice cube in a straight-sided rocks glass. The splash of Laphroaig was added to float atop the drink. I go into elaborate details in an effort to describe the care and skill involved in creating such a delightful and pleasant drink. All I can add is that this is a wonderful marriage of scotch, ingredients and skill.
Our second cocktail was High Voltage, also not on the menu. Never fear, Sara put together the right proportions of blended scotch, orange liqueur and fresh lime juice. These were combined in a cocktail shaker with ice, shaken and strained into a cocktail glass. Once again, the whisky combined wonderfully with the citrus flavors.
We combined these cocktails with selections from the appetizer menu: deviled eggs, Put-Ups (corn andouille dip, butter pea hummus, pimento cheese, bacon), a plate of artisanal cheeses, bacon marmalade, toasted pecans, seasonal jam and crusty bread. Given the strong flavors and spices, we were struck by how well the cocktails worked with the flavors in the appetizers.
Let’s expand on ice and ensuring the taste of cocktails. Using different shapes of ice is one indicator of the bartender’s knowledge and skill. Sara used the “stir stick” technique to ensure that our cocktails were properly made. She inserted a stir stick in the cocktail, put her index finger on the end, pulled out the stick, tasted the cocktail and tossed the stick into the trash. Satisfied that the cocktail was properly made, she served us.
My colleague and I left believing that scotch whisky needs to be added to bourbon, gin, rum, vodka and tequila as the basis for cocktails. Overall, Dovetail’s bar, offerings, attention to the smallest details in creating cocktails, and most importantly, their people, earn our highest rating of “Exceptional.”
Winston Churchill was key in steering us to victory in World War II. He also was renowned for his prodigious consumption of alcoholic beverages. In that spirit, this column is dedicated to his memory.