Nick Smith – Tarts and Vicars

On August 12, 2013 by Paul

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I did this piece on Nick Smith for the Chicagoist in April of this past year and in July, it shuttered it’s doors (no coincidence, I’m sure). The space has been troubled for a few restaurants and let’s hope the next concept is successful. I am not sure where Smith is going, but I can say that I appreciated his unique self-taught approach to cocktails that were balanced and refreshing.

Bartenders find inspiration for their cocktails from many different sources. Some may find it by trying new liquors or exploring a combination that they had at a restaurant. Others may be inspired by a guest request or by something that they have seen from their colleagues.

This may be the first time a cocktail was inspired directly by the movie Bridget Jones Diary.

It may sound like an odd place to find inspiration, but L’etage bartender Nick Smith thought the name of a party in the movie: Tarts & Vicars, was so great that he had to try to make something inspired by it. He used Benedictine, an herbal liqueur developed by Benedictine monks (the Vicar), and tart grapefruit and house-made horehound bitters (the Tarts) to make his cocktail. He rounds out the cocktail nicely with Combier (a French orange liqueur) and a few drops of honey-clove syrup.

Although, L’etage has only been open for a few months, what caught our eye was the interesting cocktail menu that Nick has put together. This wasn’t a cocktail spot that had tired, uninspired regurgitations of the classic cocktails. Here, he takes interesting turns with house-made bitters, shrubs, and aigre-doux. The result is interesting, yet, still approachable cocktails served in a comfortable, relaxing space.

I’m sure Bridget Jones would feel at home here, bunny costume or not.

Tarts & Vicars
2oz. Benedictine
1oz. Combier Orange Liqueur
2oz. Grapefruit juice
Dash of Horsehound Bitters
Dash of honey-clove syrup

Add ingredients to a shaker tin, add ice and shake and strain. Garnish with a flamed grapefruit peel.

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