JANUARY PICK OF THE MONTH
You didn't think I forgot about the pick of the month did you? Of course not. I could never. For those of you new to my blog, each month I select a new experience that equates to the epitome of awesomeness. I tend to choose experiences where the people, the place, and their offerings left me feeling inspired. So here it is.
The moment of truth has arrived and this month's feature is on.... NOX CRAFT COCKTAILS & COMFORT FOOD
Nox Cocktail Lounge recently opened on New Year's Eve and can be found in our beloved Village Gate, nestled behind Salena's and close to the Gatehouse. My husband and I ventured to Nox on a random Monday night and were greeted by these mysterious wooden doors, which unaware to me was already evoking the essence of what Nox was all about.
Upon entering, there is a drape hiding the mystery that would soon unfold. As you walk in you feel like you've entered a lounge where all the Hogwart's professors hang when they need a night off from teaching wizardry school. I can best describe it as an underground lair with a cozy, comfortable, and artistic feel. The dim lighting and candles strewn across the tables promotes a relaxing and castle-like atmosphere. The mish mash of couches, chairs, and wooden tables seem randomly selected, yet they were all put there for a purpose. You can tell a lot of heart and soul went into creating Nox.
So with that said, Nox couldn't make you their libations without their carefully selected assortment of Spirits, Liqueurs, and Bitters. Behold their ultra-cool library.
I bet you want to go now based on this picture. :) I mean I would.
Since it was a slower night, Chad and I had the opportunity to sit at the bar and chat with James and Corinne Black (Co-owners of Nox alongside Tom Snape & Aaron and Kelly Metras) and talk to them more about what Nox is all about.
James said that Nox has a two-fold definition, if you're feeling high brow it means 'Night' in Latin, if you're feeling low brow than it's Harry Potter's notorious wand extinguishing charm. I'm definitely feeling the latter as I may have read ALL of the of Harry Potter Books. Which leads to me why I think I connect with this place so much, you don't have to feel shy about releasing your inner geek. You'll find influences from Harry Potter, Star Trek, Charles Bukowski, Fight Club, and other literary/movie influences throughout the menu and decor. I personally like trying to decipher the menu and link them back WITHOUT wikipedia-ing or google-ing. Try it, it's a fun nerdy game.
So going back to James and Corinne. I need to tell you more about them because they are some cool cats, not to mention they are BADASS bartenders. Not only are they knowledgeable in their craft, but they are extremely down-to-earth and approachable. We share a mutual affinity for sharing the love of Rochester and I applaud them for carrying that through. Don't feel like you have to come in knowing the history of craft cocktails or knowing the difference between a scotch or rye whiskey or what bitters are made out of. Just tell them what flavors you like and they can direct you on the right path. For them, its about enjoying these type of drinks without any snootiness associated or judgment passed.
Before I get into what you should order, let me give you the quick 411 on Nox:
- WEBSITE: http://www.noxcocktail.com/
- LOCATION: Village Gate, 302 North Goodman Street (Entrance is on the East side of the building diagonal from The Gate House).
- HOURS: 4pm-12am Daily (Closed Tuesday and Wednesday) Try going on a Monday or Thursday night if it's your first time so you can chat with the Nox Peeps.
- PRICES: Cocktails range from $7-$12; Wine & Beer available too, but I stuck with Cocktails. Food ranges from $4-$11.
- AMBIANCE: Hip. Underground. Artistic. Cozy. Comfortable. Casual. As you can see in the picture below, I was happy in my beanie.
- SERVICE: Rockstar. Try to get a seat at the bar if you can. Keep in mind that the food is pub service, so you have order from the bar.
Warning: Scrolling through these pictures are apt to make you very thirsty.
I told James that I don't like overly sweet drinks, somewhat dry, kinda boozy, with bright flavors. A little vague right? Well he took that description and ran with it, creating a drink for me straight from the Secret Menu. This 'Secret' drink had Blood Orange Puree, Bourbon, and Artichoke Liqueur. Artichoke Liqueur you say? Nox isn't afraid to push the boundaries - they are adventurous and curious in their approach to cocktails. Not feeling cocktails? You can also order from the Wine and Beer list as well, but I would recommend trying at least 1 cocktail, since it's their specialty. Wait, hold on a sec.....what is this secret menu? Well if I told you, it wouldn't be a secret now would it? But what I can tell you is that you should go to Nox and ask to order off the secret menu to experience it for yourself. I don't want to spoil it for you!
So while you're somewhat miffed at me for not telling you what else is on the secret menu. Let me tell you about some Craft Cocktails to try from the non-secret menu:
- The Bell Jar: For me this drink was the perfect balance of Booze and Spice (Bourbon, Ginger Beer, Cherry Liqueur, Allspice Dram, Walnut Bitters from Fee Brothers, need I say more?)
- Napalm in the Morning: Yes, I am corny and I feel like all things with Sriracha I need to try. However, this drink was far from corny. I thought the combination of the Mezcal with the Lemon Soda and fresh lime juice, with the squirt of Sriracha made for a bright, refreshing drink with a kick!
- Siren of Titan: We all have different tastes and some are yearning for a drink that's not as strong, but is lighter in profile and reminds you of summer. Well then this drink is perfect for you as its a mixture of Rhubarb and Ginger Liqueur and fresh lemon juice and muddled strawberries.
- Guy Fawkes: V for Vendetta. This is drink is for my gin folks, who like the frothiness of egg whites and a smoky finish. You need to watch them while they make this drink!
So this review gets even better. Outside of having superb cocktails, Nox has food people! Chef Brett Blotnik and Dave Yellow put a nice spin on comfort food.
Here's what you MUST try:
- Vlad Dracul's Snack: Hungarian Wax peppers stuffed with cheesy goodness and Italian sausage served over toasted Baker Street sourdough, spread with house-made garlic butter. Mmmmmm. So much flavor!
- Noble House of Black Mac & Cheese: Not your average Mac & Cheese Kids. Blended with Asiago & Oaxaca cheeses and topped with crumbled Cheez-Its, bread crumbs, & BACON.
- His Name Was Robert Paulsen: One Word. Meatloaf.
Keep in mind that it's pub service, so you'll need to order from the bar. Its get a little busier on the weekends as most places in Village Gate do. But don't fret, they are pretty quick behind the bar and will happily take your order. Once you close out your tab, you get the delight of having your bill delivered in a hollowed out book. Nerd Pub Alert!
What is so refreshing about Nox is that they aren't overworked, they aren't trying to be something they're not, they are just staying true to who they are and bringing that to life. Thank you Nox for bringing your craft and your unique perspective to us. Also, thank you for making me feel good about telling all of Rochester that I've read all the Harry Potter books.
If you are looking for craft cocktails without the pretension, comfort food with a twist, and a place where you can release your inner nerd, than look no further - Nox is just behind those wooden doors.