Where we're drinking:
The Rose Paloma: a perfect seasonal drink at Bemiston Cocktail Club.
Bemiston Cocktail Club (16 South Bemiston, Clayton; no phone)
What we're drinking:
Rose Paloma ($10)
When we're drinking:
If fighting off cougars at Napoli isn’t your desired post-dinner scene in Clayton, the Bemiston Cocktail Club just might be a godsend. The bar opened in early May in the same spot that previously housed the Champagne bar Extra Brut. The interior isn’t much different from the Extra Brut days, but the menu and approachability of the establishment is like night and day. None of the craft cocktails is above $10, and bar bites of onion rings and hot dogs are a welcome approach in an otherwise formal and high-priced neighborhood.
The door for the Bemiston Cocktail Club is adjacent to Louie’s Wine Dive. Stepping inside leads you down a long hallway that evokes a certain Game of Thrones aesthetic. Once inside the club, you are greeted by a compact bar and a modestly sized room of booths, high-tops, and smaller two-top tables.
The expertly crafted playlist makes the room seem cheery and fun. Head bartender Quinn Corrigan is there to greet you with a smile (or a story if you are so inclined) and a killer cocktail. There is no dedicated waitstaff — all food and drinks are ordered walk-up style, which compliments the casual and unfussy nature that Bemiston exudes.
The full bar offers a modest list of four classic cocktails, including a dirty martini and old fashioned (other classic cocktails can be made upon request), and a list of four house cocktails which change seasonally. “What I’m drinking typically depends on the weather, and the house cocktails will always reflect the changing seasons,” Corrigan explains. Enter the Rose Paloma — one of his house cocktails, and a perfect summer libation for an after-dinner drink/nightcap to send you on your way.
The Rose Paloma is much like a regular Paloma but with a lighter spin. It’s made with tequila blanco, grapefruit juice and rosé apple cider, topped with dehydrated limes. Salt is optional, but is recommended to balance out the flavor profile. “I took something I loved and made it more fun,” says Corrigan of the classic Paloma.
Corrigan should know a thing or two about cocktails, specifically tequila, as he spent the last few years working at Publico and Randolfi’s prior to that. Mike Randolph's beloved high-end Mexican restaurant Publico, now shuttered, was known for its elevated cocktail program and as a spot for some of the best high-end tequila in town.
After enjoying the paloma in the confines of the Bemiston Cocktail Club, you’ll likely agree this concept is a breath of fresh air in downtown Clayton. And if you’re looking for an after-work pick-me-up, there’s always the Bemmy: a shot of whiskey paired with an Old Milwaukee beer chaser for just five bucks. According to Corrigan, Bemiston is the only bar in town that sells Old Milwaukee beer … which tastes similar to my beloved Busch, and will do in a pinch if a refreshing cheap beer is what you’re craving.
The bar is open Wednesday through Saturday and stays open until midnight.
Ellen Prinzi is our bar columnist. She likes strong drinks and has strong opinions. You can catch more of her writing via Olio City, a city guide app she started in 2017.