Spiritual Journey

Spiritual Journey

August the month is just about over, but August the bar, founded in 2014 as a matter of wine, unequivocally, has been getting something started for all of 2022: a cocktail program.

It began as early as 2021, actually, I think with a Halloween party. Then December came, and suddenly photos of stylish new elixirs served only on select days were dotting the bar’s Instagram. By spring, an evolving rotation of mixed drinks were, like the bar, accessible all the way from Wednesday to Saturday, and by now it’s fair to say that August is a bonafide cocktail bar in addition to the wine bar it’s always been.

I learned as much while ordering drinks from Katie Lloyd, the author of August’s signature cocktails. Hoping for something bright and refreshing, I started with the Magic Dragon ($14), whose stated ingredients—“gin, apricot, dragoncello tarragon, p31 aperitivo, lemon”—suggested mellow fruity fun with herbal, citric zip. The drink pretty much delivered on that, albeit in a surprising way, with smoother, sweeter base notes whirling upward into a cold, tart, vegetal plume whenever I held the drink to my tongue. Undisclosed at first was a spritz of atomized absinthe, a secret Lloyd shared when I asked about a note of anise. She also pointed to the P31, an Italian liqueur that was new to me, as the source of the drink’s restrained “bitter background,” praising its subtlety compared to more bitter and better-known cousins.

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A lesser-known cousin showed up in my next order, a funky concoction Lloyd has playfully dubbed the Cheetah Print ($14) for its “brûlée” color and what she views as a “sultry and exotic” character. Stirred, not shaken, it was nice to look at, with a luscious slice of orange fitted perfectly into the curve of a lowball. But the reason I ordered it was to see if a blend I’d normally stay away from—“pinhook rye, amaro dell’etna, giffard pineapple, peated scotch float”—could actually work, like that one friend’s cheetah print top.

At first, it didn’t. A strong presence of scotch drifted off after a minute, leaving a pretty bland and cloying exchange between the rye and the pineapple. Then, remembering how my wine expert uncle would push and pull his reds like seawater through baleen, I slowed things down and swished things around—and that changed everything. Suddenly the flavors resolved into a loud, incisive debate I would never have believed I’d enjoy so much.

In New Haven, August and Lloyd aren’t alone in aiming high and deep with their cocktails. But I can’t remember the last time my taste buds were pushed so far so quickly. Drinking interesting combinations of liquids isn’t in cold, hard fact a profound experience, yet I’m still kind of processing that evening five days ago.

Even if there weren’t other reasons to return—the cozy-classy ambience, the nice things to nibble, the excellent wine—that would be reason enough for me.

Bar August
3 Edwards St, New Haven (map)
Wed-Sat 5pm-late
(203) 745-4531
www.baraugust.com

Written by Dan Mims. Images photographed by and provided courtesy of Katie Lloyd.

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