“Vessel opened with three key components—proper glassware, a focus on community and a coastal theme. We have 28 different kinds of glasses because glassware is important; you should drink from the proper glass for everything we serve, so we have five different glasses for wine, five for beer, and everything from tiki mugs to coupes. We have communal tables so you can come with a big group and not feel like you’re taking over the whole place, plus our food is shareable and we have large format beers [bombers] with two and a half beers in each, and also carafes of cocktails. ‘Vessel’ could also be a ship, so the menu ties into different coastal cuisines from around the world and all of our wines are sourced from a coast, or within 50 miles of a coast.
I’m a big ‘name’ kind of person; I like names. I named all of the cocktails on our menu. My personal favorite is the Night’s Dirty Lightning, which was a pirate ship in the 1800s, and for that we use two different kinds of rum, a 20-year Mocambo Solera and an Appleton Estate rum and an apple spice shrub that we make with three different kinds of apples [Red and Golden Delicious and Granny Smith], two vinegars—apple cider and rice wine vinegar—and spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, allspice and vanilla. Shrubs are basically drinkable vinegars. It’s not surprising that someone who preserved fruit in vinegar realized the vinegar took on some of the fruit flavor and then mixed that with alcohol.
Another cocktail we have on the menu is called the Song & Story, which is a play on a hymnal. I’m not looking to offend anyone, but quite frankly—I run a bar inside of a church, so it’s hard not to play on that.
The cocktail I’m making for you is an homage to Harry Connick, Jr. It’s basically a boilermaker, which is a beer and a shot—something you’ll find in every dive bar around the city. I call this the Babymaker, and our shot is a little bit more complex than a neat spirit. I based it off of the beer, using local Urban South Holy Roller IPA, which needs citrus and sweetness because it’s an IPA. The vodka we’re using is St. Roch Vodka from Seven Three Distilling, which is brand new. Why the Babymaker? I mean… it’s Harry Connick, Jr.! Every girl I know loves Harry Connick, Jr. There are few musicians you can have playing in a bedroom, and Harry Connick, Jr. is one of them.
There are many reasons I like Holy Roller. I’m not much of a beer drinker, but I really like this beer. And I really like the name Holy Roller. Being that Vessel is in a church, and a holy roller is someone who goes out to party on Saturday night and then rolls into church on Sunday morning, still hung over, it’s perfect.”