Field trip: The Cove

Last night I went with the gang to The Cove, a chic dive bar on Broad Avenue in the spot that used to be The Beer Joint.  I was completely impressed with this place for a number of reasons I’ll get into later in this post.  Very rarely do I deem a bar worthy of a car ride away from Downtown, but this one deserves it.  Let’s start with a few pics of the decor, featuring a nautical/sailing/pirate theme.








The nautical theme even extends to the cocktail napkins.  In the next picture we see Skippy holding one of the napkins:


Next, let’s talk about the drinks.  They have a very, very extensive drink menu.  All of their drinks are made from scratch – there are absolutely no mixes in use anywhere.  This means that the bartenders may spend several minutes making your drink – but it’s made the RIGHT way.  I ordered a mint julep and the bartender carefully crushed the mint, spooned out sugar, and then poured in carefully-measured ingredients.  A friend of mine ordered an old fashioned and was very happy.  Another friend told a story of an earlier time when he had been in, and detected a hint of licorice – but just a hint – in his drink.  “That’s because, for that particular drink, we rinse the glass in licorice before we pour,” the bartender told him.  Elegant little touches like that tell you that, although it appears to be a dive bar at first glance, the people at The Cove really know what they’re doing.  Drinks are reasonable too.  My mint julep was $6.50.  The PBR bottle I drank was $2.25 (but you really should skip beer and try the mixed drinks there).

Oh, and John D was extremely impressed with the Bud Light bottles he had at The Cove.

While I was at the bar, the bartender showed me a bottle.  “Absinthe?” he asked.  He explained to me that absinthe – REAL absinthe, not the fake stuff – became legal in the US only five weeks ago.  He then told me The Cove was the first place in Memphis to have it.  So I ordered a drink, which he mixed with a sugar cube and water (they don’t have the spoons yet though).  Damn.  That is definitely not a drink you want to chug.  Just smelling it from four feet away got me drunk.  Here’s a pic of my glass of “the green fairy” and also a ginger beer that The Cove carries.


I’ve been told that absinthe gives people all kinds of weird hallucinations, but I didn’t drink it fast enough, or I didn’t drink enough of it, to experience anything like that.

Let’s move on to the food.  They have a small menu but it works.  Apps like hummus and pita bread; several sandwiches including vegetarian options; pita pizzas; shrimp cocktails; oysters on the half shell.  Here’s a pic of my friend Robin having the oysters, which she said were some of the best she’s ever had.  The oysters are expertly shucked by an alumnus of the late, great Anderton’s restaurant.


And now we come to the part of the post that everyone’s been looking forward to, the “random pics of us drinking” section:


Me with our BBQ team captain Chuck.  One of the bartenders had tattoos of sailing ships and a pig on his arm.  Chuck, who likes to go sailing on Lake Michigan in the summer: “Now that’s a man after my own heart!”



The Nuh-Uh Girl and Chuck pose for a picture.



The gang at the bar (front view).  Note the Bud Light bottle in front of John D.



The gang and random people in suits at the bar (back view).  Note the ’50s movie being shown on the plasma HDTV.  They also showed a British zombie movie and The Big Lebowski while we were there.  It’s refreshing to walk into a bar and not see ESPN Sportscenter on TV.



Skippy tries to convince the Nuh-Uh Sister to take him to Maui on the trip she won on Wheel of Fortune.


I once again have to say how much Picasa rules.  Its auto-contrast feature rescued about half the images shown above.  They were practically unusable before I imported them into Picasa because digital cameras have so much trouble with dim light.

By 10 the bar started to get crowded, and we headed back home.  A very good time was had by all.  Looks like we aren’t the only Downtown barflies to find out about this place – I saw several people I recognized from my usual haunts.  Good to be back home Downtown, but The Cove will see me again.