Consider yourself lucky that Andrew Cook and Byran Rushton, life-long friends as Massachusetts natives, chose Nashville as the city for The Fox Bar & Cocktail Club. This east-side watering hole began serving drinks in late September, and the neighborhood has since embraced them. “We wanted to do cocktails on a higher level — on par with The Patterson House, the first bar to bring that cocktail world to Nashville — and shoot for a high level of craftsmanship while having an environment that is beautiful, comfortable and relaxed,” Andrew says of the concept. Together, the pair created a space that is reflective of their personalities. “We take the business seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” Andrew assures us.
The early-20th Century influence is immediately apparent, with intriguing interior design that creates a cozy atmosphere akin to that of a Prohibition Era speakeasy (or at least how we think of one today). The design team at 1767 Designs incorporated recycled wood (from Nashville homes and buildings), tables and tin tiles that come together to create an Art Deco-inspired space. Inside the dimly lit interior, nine bar stools, three high-tops, a small lounge area and plush velvet booths welcome drinkers to explore the craft cocktail menu developed by Will Benedetto, a seasoned Nashville bartender (and native) who is now mixing cocktails in New York City.
On the menu, you will find spirited drinks, TN Whiskey drinks, beer and cider, draft wine and sparkling wine. The spirited drinks range from a seasonal Old Fashioned to a blue tiki drink. The TN Whiskey drinks have been the most popular among tourists and locals alike. Paying homage to Will’s home state, the five drinks currently on the menu feature Dickel, Jack Daniel’s, Collier McKeel and Chattanooga 1816 spirits, and are mixed with seasonal ingredients.
“At The Fox we have a certain ethos we take when approaching cocktails. We don’t search for continuity in narrative or theme, but rather an immense respect for seasonality,” Will says. “I’ve never been one to do huge menu flips, trading out fall for winter menus overnight. This just isn’t how seasons work. Generally availability of produce, herbs and vegetables changes somewhat gradually, but even this isn’t always true. Early frosts and warm/dry summers can really change what’s fresh. So our menu constantly evolves. We also make every effort to go the extra mile to use the entire ingredient. Pineapple fruit is used to make pineapple syrup, the skins are used to infuse a house blend of rum and the leaves are used as a garnish. Even the lemon verbena we steep in simply syrup is dehydrated to make a sort of lemon verbena sugar.”
Each month, a new drink rises to the top of the menu. While the flavor profile is seasonal, the base remains the same: an Old Fashioned. The November Old Fashioned, as it is named this month, features sweet potato syrup. “An Old Fashioned is the highest-selling drink at most bars,” Andrew explains. “I tend to measure bars by their Old Fashioned.” We chose to judge this bar by the Dumb Blonde, a sweet mix of brandy, ginger, lemon stock, lemon curd, curaçao and angostura bitters, as well as the Flor de Fumar, an alcohol-forward mix of reposado, hibiscus, absinthe, leather and lemon oil. Our kudos to Will and the bartenders for crafting these memorable cocktails.
The menu is designed to be approachable, thanks to visuals and clear descriptions that educate you on everything from ingredients to the type of ice in each cocktail. “We made the menu interactive and fun to give people something to smile about,” Andrew tells us. “The visuals give a fun way for people to deduce what they like and don’t like and to know what they are getting. We want people to go into the experience knowing a little more, so we can make them something they will like.”
While not unmarked, the door does take a minute to find. But The Fox Bar & Cocktail Club isn’t your typical back-alley joint. Despite the hard-to-find location (down the alley, behind Nicoletto’s Italian Kitchen and under the stairs to The Bowery Vault), they aren’t trying to hide. “We aim to be the opposite of pretentious,” Bryan tells us. “And you don’t need a password to get in.”
Patrick, who is not only a doorman but also owner of 1767 Designs, will greet you at the door. If there is a wait, leave your number and head to neighboring Mickey’s Tavern to kill time. The staff is mindful of those waiting and promises a standout experience once inside. “We pride ourselves on our staff and put an emphasis on customer-focused service” Bryan says. “We open at 5 p.m. and a lot of people take advantage of that to come in and spread their wings in a booth. Earlier in the day is great for a low-key cocktail and charcuterie board before dinner, or for dinner.”
With the mention of charcuterie, it is about time we discuss the kitchen, with Laura Gillway at the helm. Chickpeas, vegan pimento cheese, tartines and sandwiches grace the small plates section, but we bypassed these for the charcuterie. Choose four, six or eight options for $16-$30. Of the six meats, the duck prosciutto is a must! The cheeses range from blue to goat to pecorino to camembert. Whether a vegan or not, take a chance in exploring the vegan options. “The food evolved over time, and we are happy with where we landed: a local and seasonal focus,” Andrew says. “For a place like this, charcuterie just felt right. With the vegan options, I wanted to do something that appealed to that community. We have something unique that people are taken aback by but have responded to in a positive way. If we are putting that much effort into our cocktail program, we don’t want the food to be an afterthought. We are of the mindset that anything worth doing is worth doing well.”
The Fox Bar & Cocktail Club is located at 2905B Gallatin Pike, Nashville, TN 37216. Hours are Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
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