Located almost at the very bottom left of Greenwich Avenue is Eastend, part of the Z Hospitality Group which includes other well-known restaurants in Fairfield and Westchester counties like Mediterraneo, Terra, Sole, and Aurora.
I first came to know about Eastend, and its seasonal food offerings and craft cocktails through a friend, Juan Meyer, who runs the bar program there. The funny thing about all this was I knew Juan as the general manager of The Spread in South Norwalk and never knew he was a bartender until he accepted the position at Eastend. Week after week I practically drooled over the artfully crafted boozy beverages Juan posted on Facebook and Instagram, and then at the 2016 Greenwich Wine + Food Festival he took top honors in the cocktail competition as voted on by the judges. His drink was off the chain good that day—and you’ll hear more about it—but it was there that we got to catching up and when he invited me to drop by when his seasonal cocktail menu for the fall/winter was complete.
The drink menu is ambitious, and is the result of Juan’s research in New Orleans and NYC, and lots of prep in the test kitchen/lab in Eastend’s basement. The result is a great mix of contrasting flavors and styles. You’ll find classics, beer cocktails, sours, punches, shrubs, and low ABV libations. There seriously is something for everyone.
I tried a lot of booze. And, of course, some food too. Scroll down, read the captions, and it’ll surely whet your appetite.
The evening started out with this G&T Milk Punch. It’s basically straight booze and spices, yet tasted so light and refreshingly citrusy that I wanted to gulp it down. I’d advise against that despite how damn smooth it is.
Get Figgy With It was another hit, and this was just the beginning. The Figenza (fig vodka) is paired with fig & bacon shrub (so basically infused simple syrups) and lime juice for a sweeter drink that goes down super easy. The brûléed fig and prosciutto garnish is a welcomed snack and meshed well with the drink. Pork is always allowed.
The drinks built up an appetite, so we got to try Executive Chef Albert DeAngelis cuisine, kicked off by a charcuterie board with prosciutto, sopressata, salami, and a variety of cheeses. Big props to the slightly spicy pickled veggies and perfectly grilled bread. Start your bar experience or meal with this!
The bourbon glazed pork belly was stellar. It actually reminded me of Spanish roast pork, based on seasoning and the way it forked apart. And yes, that’s popcorn, a garnish for the creamy grits.
The bacon-sweet potato croquettes with cranberry and apple cider are best decribed as Thanksgiving bar food.
Not many places are doing beer cocktails but this was right up my alley. Maple Rapids (Michter’s Bourbon, bourbon-maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, fresh organic egg, Founders Nitro Stout) is best compared to a boozy milkshake. It’s incredibly creamy and the spices scream “autumn.”
Straight up, I forgot what this one was. It was consumed around the time when the buzz was real. But Juan does like to set stuff on fire. Picture yourself escaping Connecticut while you’re drinking this tiki creation on a beach.
Out of so many good cocktails it was damn near impossible to pick a favorite, but this Clementine Collins (Redemption Bourbon, lime juice, clementine shrub, soda) was up there. A take on the classic Tom Collins, this switches out gin for bourbon, but even if you’re not a dark liquor fan, this is more than doable as the booze is disguised by the drink’s sweetness and the muddled clementines.
Blood Orange Margarita (Casamigos Blanco Tequila, habanero/blood orange shrub, Combier Triple Sec, lime juice, candied blood orange): A solid marg that injects a bit of tingly spiciness but not to the point where it lingers.
For those chilly nights, a warm Manhattan for your sipping pleasure. This one’s dangerous, meaning “boozy.”
I’m a huge fan of sour drinks, and this Pisco Sour fits the bill. Barsol Quebranta (made from grapes, btw) Pisco, lemon & lime juice, rich simple syrup, and frothy egg whites make this a balanced drink in terms of pucker and sweetness.
If it wasn’t apparent from all the drink pics, Eastend is serving up some of Connecticut’s best cocktails. Pull up at the bar, and it’s a safe bet that you won’t be able to stop at just one drink.