Friday, July 15, 2011

Whoa, Molly

"A place for everyone."

That's how Molly Wellmann describes the vision she's long had for a neighborhood bar.

Molly and I first talked craft cocktails almost two years ago when she was tending bar at Lavomatic. A lot has happened since then - Molly left Lavo (along with the rest of the restaurant's original staff), the craft cocktail concept exploded in Cincinnati, and the historic Japp's since 1879 flung its Main Street doors back open June 23 after several years of vacancy.

I remember getting a text from Molly last Christmas Eve telling me the deal was close to closing. Almost seven months later, people are flocking to sip the mixologist's creations while sharing conversation in Main Street's newest space.

Conversation is the crux of Japp's. Molly envisioned a place where people would talk. That's why patrons will notice the conspicuously absent blaring music and TVs. "We don't have any sports fans, that's for sure," Molly said with a smile.

What Japp's does have, though, is ambiance perfect for first dates, friends setting off for a night on the town, and nightcaps to wrap an evening.

Since its opening, Molly has worked to develop a unique stock of liquor, much the way a curator amasses a priceless art collection. You won't find any Gray Goose behind the bar, but chances are you'll find something even better.

Last night alone, the Japp's crew offered a drink special featuring Chartreuse, a liqueur first made by French monks in the 1700s. As Molly talks about the lime green elixir, her eyes light up and her hands fly about, punctuating dates and other historic references.

To talk about cocktails with this tattooed beauty is to experience a history lesson, and that is completely by design.

"Every night, you should know what you're drinking. Not just the name of the liquor, but the history of the drink and the story behind what goes in it."

Much of what goes in your cocktail glass is crafted by Molly, herself. Her list of homemade items includes grenadine, bitters (tobacco, sunshine, clove and cinnamon), triple sec-flavored syrup and lime cordial.

She's also working on an IPA simple syrup for a beer cocktail to be featured sometime in the fall.

I don't know where this girl finds the time.

You don't have to wait until autumn to treat your taste buds to something special. The month of August brings with it weekend-only punches poured straight from giant apothecary vessels. Molly says they'll be delicious, unique, and sold at a friendly price point.

Also in the near future, don't be surprised if you see distillers and tenders offering tastes of special bottles brought in by Molly. You won't see a shot girl in sight, but what you will see, likely, is a crowd of people getting a lesson in a booze they've never had.

Sign me up.

Japp's since 1879 is located at 1134 Main Street. Craft cocktails run about $8. No beer on draft, but plenty of microbrews and imports to sip. Also on site, a special Tazza Mia coffee bar, complete with a Venus Century espresso machine - the same machine owned by the Pope.

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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