Food & Drink
Cocktails in Loopland: George’s Keep adds serious drinks to Eilan
Published: April 16, 2014
If you’re one of the well-to-do Eilan dwellers who ably shells out the $1,500 a month for a studio or $3K for a two bed/2.5 bath apartment, I imagine finding your way to George’s Keep doesn’t require a compass. But if you’re coming from anywhere other than the European-style luxury development, finding the Keep might feel like heading to Erebor and looking for the Arkenstone (apologies for The Hobbit reference, but this is a serious quest).
Not content with owning two buzzed-about cocktail bars (Stone Oak’s Green Lantern and the Pearl’s Blue Box), owner Stephen Mahoney announced George’s Keep would join Sustenio and Piatti in adding some life to Eilan last fall. Mahoney brought Green Lantern’s Johnny Bernal and Steven Raul Martín (of NAO and Esquire Tavern) on board as general managers to curate a team of bartenders. The team was then asked to create two cocktail menus for each of the bars inside the Keep. One focuses on lighter spirits perfect for patio sippin’ (we’ll get to that in a sec), while the downstairs, or south, bar focuses on cocktails that pack a punch.
But before you take your first sip, you have to find George’s Keep. Much like its predecessors, Mahoney ditched signage, which makes finding the Keep … interesting. The trick is finding Piatti, heading straight up to the terrace level of the complex, passing the fountain—try to not wake up Smaug—going up the first main flight of stairs and taking an immediate left. You’re on your own if you plan on taking an elevator.
The completion of the bar took longer than originally expected, but it’s obvious why when you step inside and take in the attention to detail both on Mahoney’s side as well as that of his interior design team Courtney & Company. The place, which was originally used as storage for the hotel, is a vision.
Marble sits atop the first bar while backlit bottles line the shelves.
To the left of the L-shaped bar is a small seating area with a mix of booths and tables. Here, you’ll find the patio-friendly libations like the Mother’s Little Helper, a pleasant mix of pisco, vibrant hibiscus, lemon and sparkling wine, or the slinky Intimissimi, so named after the lingerie-producing Italian clothing label and equally seductive.
The patio is quaint, a dozen or so tables dot the left side of the terrace level. Once the sun starts setting behind the massive hotel in the early evening, there really is no need for the tables’ umbrellas.
Sure, Sustenio has cocktails and Piatti has its house libations, but George’s Keep’s is the only real cocktail parlor around these parts. Older brother Green Lantern gave folks outside the loop a taste for serious boozing, but the cocktail bar boom has been largey focused downtown … until now.
That fact is driven home further inside the swanky downstairs bar with its tiger-print wallpaper, great lighting and country club-esque leather booths that surround a copper-topped bar. The current soft opening menu is small but mighty, and my only quibble would be it needs prices so patrons can keep track of the damage. Even so, it features four drinks, each rocking a healthy dose of Italian bitters. You can’t go wrong with the bold Transatlantic with anejo tequila, Cocchi Americano aperitif, Gran Classico bitters and a delicate touch of peach liqueur.
The staff at George’s maintain their speed while churning out craft creations and doling out Tito’s and soda—and there were plenty of those to be had. I couldn’t peg the clientele for the life of me. For every button-down shirt wearing, perfectly coiffed bro I saw, a post-work out gal was to be found.
Laidback polos having post-shift drinks gave way to extension-clad, heel-teetering women, as bartenders poured rum and Cokes and 12-year Macallan on the rocks. Confusing, yes, but also strangely welcoming.
As with any Mahoney bar, things might take a turn sometime in the late evening as the party really gets going and the quiet bar takes on a livelier persona. You’ve got three choices: You either need to bounce, take in the show … or just keep drinking.
17101 La Cantera Pkwy, Ste 1200
> Email Jessica Elizarraras