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Classic Cocktails With a French Twist Are Hiding Just off South Street at The Good King Tavern

Located just off South Street, there’s something about walking into The Good King Tavern that is entirely transportive. From the mirrored bar to the calm and convivial blue and yellow dining room and specials written in script that’s unmistakably French, Bernard Grigri and his daughter Chloe have done a remarkable job of crafting a tiny Gallic wonderland in Queen Village.

Since the opening just about a year and a half ago, Chef Paul Lyons has crafted a concise menu of classics like steak frite and soca, Provancal chickpea pancakes served with ratatouille along with a rotation of gorgeously seasonal specials like a fava bean tartine with maitake mushrooms. And behind the bar, Chloe and her staff have created a beverage program with a uniquely French accent.

For the cocktail program, the menu is divided into classics and house drinks. Grigri explains that the menu was devised with the restaurant’s French pedigree first. Having recently revamped the menu for the warmer months, there are certain cocktail formulas that remain on the menu year round. There’s a take on a martini for spring, a Vesper with gin, vodka and floral Cocchi Americano; an egg white drink, in this case the classic Philadelphia Clover Club; something brown spirit-forward, a Boulevardier; and an Old Cuban made with rum, lime, mint and sparkling wine to fill the slot of a Champagne cocktail. The French influence is far reaching, but two cocktails, a Zombie and a Sazerac, come from a closer to home French outpost. “TGK Zombie comes from New Orleans, so again pulling from different areas, whether it’s our country or elsewhere that have been influenced by the French,” says Grigri. At The Good King, even tequila gets a French twist with Le Diable, a refreshing blend of lime, ginger and club soda otherwise know as El Diablo.

The bar staff shows their creativity with a selection of house cocktails. At The Good King, there are two cocktails du jour — one shaken and one stirred. For the House menu, the staff gets together and chooses favorites. Named for various locales around the city, the spring menu includes the Society Hill made by Guy Smith, a veteran of Petruce et al. and Fork, a potent blend of rye, sloe gin, dry vermouth, Aperol and lemon bitters.

“Wine was always part of the deal ever since we opened,” Grigri explains. “My dad is French, and I grew up around wine. I’m not a certified somm, but I know it pretty well and like it a lot.” She put together a wine program that is one of the most laid back and creative in town, offering reds and whites (and roses in the warm months) by the glass and pichet at three price levels. “The good, better, best program was designed to present wines as a little bit less pretentious than as they sometimes might be presented, and obviously providing a great price point. The pichet is a legitimate 750 milliliter bottle. That’s how we’ve been running the program since the beginning.”

With a program like that, Grigri has affordable and interesting glasses that range from $5.50 to $7.50 and bottles going for $20 to $30. Along with a nightly selection of higher end pours, Grigri also has a fantastic bottle list. “We do offer a couple quality bottles by the glass, and our wine list itself is a really cool, eclectic selection of mostly all-natural wines, mostly France specific. We have just a couple of bottles from elsewhere.” And, of course, no French beverage program goes without a few bubbly options. Currently, The Good King is pouring two cremants, one from Limoux and a rose from Alsace.

The Good King Tavern is open Monday to Friday from 5 PM–2 AM, Saturday from 11 AM–2 AM and Sunday from 11 AM–1 AM.

The Good King Tavern; 614 S 7th St., 215-625-3700

Photos by Caroline Russock

 


Tags: Cocktails, Food, Spirits, Wine
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