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Patch Picks: Palazzo 1837 Ristorante's Drinks Steal Your Heart

House-infused is a regular saying here.

The place was built in 1837 and the vintage recipes recreated with true love glimmer like so many carats. Palazzo inhabits the Quail Acres Estate, a handsome colonial mansion tucked up before the modern glare of The Meadows.  

Every inch of the place was handmade and bartender Will Lenz ensures that the authenticity extends behind the bar (which used to be the winter kitchen in the original estate). A long visit is imperative when taking a date to dinner at Palazzo.

Watching Lenz at work will stoke your appetite for food, conversation and later, love. There is a sensuality in fresh things being mashed together to make something beautiful. The long-necked bottles with delicate French calligraphy circle the masculine tools of the trade. Exotic indulgences like Absinthe and Crème Yvette (laced with pressed violets) give your night a little European flair.

Its skilled foreplay of an art not seen much these days. The hard, creative work of a true bartender that men will appreciate and women will enjoy. Delicate simple syrup is infused with homemade smoked vanilla beans and rosemary from his garden. A dozen delightful things from banana peppers to wild alpine strawberries soak in various vodkas. Paper-thin orange slices bask in a sugary cloak ready to adorn a drink made with his Bing cherry-infused brandy. It's far more gourmet mis en place than bar. A thing of beauty, inviting you to partake.

“I would never, ever use anything pre-made," said Lenz. "I make everything myself, by hand, to order. Sometimes people have to be a little patient."

The bar he oversees is small and beautiful. It’s very easy to forget where you are not just geographically, but perhaps spiritually too. In the dead of a bone-chilling February, the ample fireplaces and lighting make a lover’s face glow. Make a reservation today (literally, now – 724-223-1837) for Valentine’s Day, and make time to enjoy this glorious tavern.

Finding a libation to not love here is hard. It’s not for the monogamous drinker. Do not order your usual here. Many drinks feature the subtle master of mixed drinks -- vodka. It takes on so many personalities, you’ll never get bored.

How do you like it? If it’s sweet, go for the Pearly Gates: house-infused wild strawberry vodka, muddled fresh strawberries, light crème de cacao, Godiva Chocolate Liqueur and sweetened, condensed milk served on the rocks, garnished with fresh whipped crème and hand-shaved Swiss chocolate.

Or, maybe something tart? Sip the signature Quail House Martini: house-infused lemon drop vodka, Cointreau and Tuaca with a Belgian raspberry lambic float (that’s garnet-colored beer on top, yup!).

Maybe the Clementine suits your taste for something sophisticated: Svedka Clementine Vodka, fresh-pressed orange juice (you can smell it from four feet away), Seltzer and simple syrup, garnished with that gorgeous, sweet burnt orange.

If brawny is your thing, order a classic Bloody Bull with veal stock, or a real-live Vanilla and Rye: 1920s whiskey sour from scratch, rye bourbon, splash of Amaretto, fresh-pressed lemon juice, simple syrup, fresh-frothed egg white and a splash of vanilla.

There are also 30 bottles of wine under $30 and three dozen beers imported from eight countries.

Remember to save room for dinner (which is an additional level of seduction).

On Valentine’s Day you’ll toast the love of your life or week or future. No matter the stage of your affection, honor each other with great style and appeal at Palazzo. The experience is as authentic as you feel for each other.

Andrea Bosco February 11, 2011 at 01:57 PM
Interesting! Looking forward to trying your (and Will's) suggestion. Thanks for sharing!
kelly snyder February 11, 2011 at 03:55 PM
Wow - sounds delish. I just realized that the place had a new name, Scott and I were there a few years ago for dinner, but maybe drinks there in the future!
Andrea Bosco February 11, 2011 at 05:41 PM
AWESOME photos, Matt! Thanks for adding!
Tom hershberger February 12, 2011 at 01:37 AM
The bar at 1837 is a destination and Will has become a celebrity bartender. The way to think about this as an artist and his studio and you don't have to go NY to experience it. TH
Matt J Sager February 12, 2011 at 02:10 AM
Will Lenz absolutely is like a chef behind the bar. And taking it to another level, Executive Chef Adam Smith sees the bar as an extension of himself in the kitchen because he does a number of the authentic garnishes for the bar. Such as Sweet Burnt Orange and an array of simple syrups.

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