Since 2006, the Drop Bar & Bistro has helped anchor Martini Corner, a tight hub of locally owned bars on 31st Street that includes Velvet Dog, Sol Cantina, Empire Room, Tower Tavern and Haus.
Now, new owners are reinventing the midtown mainstay at 409 E. 31st St. Last fall, Chris Ridler, who owns Sol Cantina and is a partner in the Country Club Plaza’s Zocalo Mexican Cuisine & Tequileria, teamed up with Liz Enzor — who previously managed both of those bars — to purchase the Drop from former owner Eddie Crane.
The duo is keeping the Drop’s well-known bruschetta and wineglass chandeliers. But Enzor, who says she has always dreamed of opening her own bar, is putting her spin on the business.
She brightened up the space by painting gray walls gold and added damask curtains and tufted white chairs that would look right at home in a boutique hotel.
The Drop’s menu also got a makeover. Enzor loves brunch, so she added a menu on weekends that includes crabcake benedicts, biscuits and gravy, French toast, and a popular Croque Madame, a grilled ham sandwich oozing with melty, cheesy Mornay sauce.
Ridler and Enzor have given creative control of the Drop’s menu to Zach Woods, a former sous chef at Zocalo. His new dishes include bone marrow ravioli ($8) and a Brussels sprouts-arugula salad ($9).
I devoured the staff-recommended salad and sliders, topped with molten goat cheese and crisp, peppery arugula. The buttery bun — a brioche from Farm to Market — added an extra layer of richness.
The Drop’s drink menu still features bottled beer and wine by the glass, but the new specialty is craft cocktails made by new bartenders Baron Stout and Zac Snyder. Both are members of the United States Bartenders’ Guild, an organization with a mission to advance the “prestige and knowledge of practicing bartenders.”
Stout and Snyder are still finalizing their classic cocktail-inspired menu. It will be full of drinks that complement (instead of cover up) the flavor of locally distilled 360 Vodka and Darkhorse rye whiskey.
When I popped in for happy hour, Stout made me his “drink of the moment.” The cocktail, which the bartender named 31st Street Symphony after the sounds of afternoon traffic in midtown, kicked up the sweet-tart flavor of muddled green apple with the warm and spicy ginger-infused vodka Stout made behind the bar.
“Up till now, I’ve been doing this stuff at home,” he said, pointing to the golden infusion. Like Stout, Enzor is enjoying how it feels to have ownership in something. Especially in Martini Corner.
“My heart is in this area,” she says.
In other bar makeover news: The Granfalloon, 608 Ward Parkway, has changed its concept from “bar & grill” to “restaurant & bar.” What’s the big diff, you ask?
The Granfalloon still serves standard bar & grill fare such as chicken tenders, wings and nachos. But the new menu goes beyond no-brainer beer food with burnt end grilled cheese sandwiches ($11), whiskey-marinated Korean barbecue pork ribs ($15 for a half rack) and Hangover Enchiladas ($13) stuffed with beef and spiked with a hit of ghost chili.
Enterprise reporter Sarah Gish writes about dining every first and third week of the month. She also contributes to The Star’s new food blog, Chow Town. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @sarah_gish.