Elm City Social has entered New Haven’s burgeoning craft cocktail scene with an exhaustive and inventive array of cocktails and a variety dining options from mid-day to late night. Venturing into the Elm City Social bar during Happy Hour, I had but a simple mission – to quickly refuel with a cocktail and a few snacks before an evening event. I knew I had come to the right place when I noticed the cocktail menu was equal to, if not greater than, the dining options.
So first, those cocktails. The Rubber Ducky is a shaken cocktail made from a combination of a citra hop-infused New Amsterdam Gin, basil, grapefruit, lemon, with sparkling water. First sip, my eyes quickly narrowing, I found myself put off (turned on?) by the hoppy notes. Second sip, a bit of offense but also wonderment, “how did an IPA get in my cocktail?” From that point until my last sip, I was impressed by the equal parts confusion and compulsion on my palate. Well done. Also, there is an actual rubber ducky floating in your drink. Bonus points for cheekiness.
Sampling a bar’s Old Fashioned is my barometer for cocktail bar success. Spoiler alert: they rock it. The Elm City Social version is well-balanced while still managing a surprise. Made with J.R. Ewing Kentucky Bourbon (yup, that J.R. Ewing, and it’s solid) along with sugar, cherry bitters, orange bitters, and a maple bacon jerky garnish.
Onto the food. A $3 happy hour menu is pretty hard to beat. At that price point, my expectations approximated a bowl of nuts. Instead, Elm City delivers a list of five options during my last visit, including house made chips (salty, crispy, and spattered with herbs), three towering tater-tots, and a beef slider all had for under $10 – thrifty quality that has to be a loss leader for their dense and impressive cocktail menu.
Opened since July 2015 under the helm of executive chef and co-owner John Brennan, Elm City Social does brunch, lunch, dinner, as well as late night, but Happy Hour is a perfect gateway experience into the menu of this New Haven restaurant. On the way out, I looked a bit more closely at the sign noticing what I had failed to notice when I first walked in – Elm City Social Kitchen AND Cocktails. Indeed.
Elm City Social is located at 266 College St, New Haven, CT.
For more information, contact 203-891-7155 or firstname.lastname@example.org