Happy Hour at Elm City Social in New Haven

Amy Kundrat

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 info@elmcitysocial.com