It’s easy to find bars that give nods to the early cocktail period. Throw a few original Prohibition-era recipes on your drink list and voila, you’re a modern speakeasy. But rarer is the bar whose entire design is essentially a love letter to the past. Perhaps that’s why it took so long for Stoddard’s Fine Food & Ale to open. The owners spent two years renovating and rehabilitating this Ladder District locale, originally home to a cutlery and corset store in the 1860s. Much of the interior design — iron works, frosted glass, old bricks and the like — is comprised of materials repurposed from historic structures in the area. The effect is something like drinking flagons of working man’s ale by gaslight.
“We took Jerry Thomas [19th century bartending pioneer] as an inspiration,” says Stoddard’s barkeep Andy Kilgore of their cocktail list. “Not just because he wrote the first cocktail book, but because he traveled and collected recipes. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel; there are hundreds of great cocktails that have already been invented. We’re trying to stay more authentic to the spirit of cocktails from that time.”
The five cask ales behind the bar pay homage to the way people used to drink as well. “Staying in the tradition of old drinks, it's what beers would have tasted like before technology.” The only problem now might be figuring out how to drive your horse and buggy home after a few of them. Anyone know how late the trolley runs?