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Cocktails Upstairs!

A look at where you can get mixed drinks in Montclair ... and a peek at the newest Montclair bar, Upstairs!

Montclair is a restaurant town, but more specifically it is a BYOB restaurant town. There are over 80 restaurants and eateries in Montclair, and only one dozen liquor licenses. 

According to Mayor Jerry Fried, “NJ State law limits liquor licenses to one per 3,000 residents, thus Montclair has only 12. Exemptions include those on State property (like the NJTransit stations) and also 100+ bed hotels. Nothing can be done locally except lobbying for changing State law. It would be particularly helpful if we could somehow use Glen Ridge's "extra" licenses. Or add several hundred new residents to get the 13th.”

Of the 12 liquor licenses only 11 are active and trade as Egan & Sons, Halcyon, Tierney’s, Just Jakes, Park Sports Bar, Dlv Lounge, The Office, Richie Cecere’s (yes, they are still pouring), Trumpets, The Wellmont, and a new bar in town, Upstairs. The Charlie Brown’s of Montclair, Inc. license is inactive, as well as a license owned by Dick Grabowsky, LLC. 

So when a few Patch writers, along with our editor, Shelley Emling, who returns to the helm today, decided to gather for cocktails, selecting a place to meet was not too difficult. We decided to try Montclair’s newest bar restaurant, Upstairs, located above Dai Kichi, 608 Valley Road, Montclair. 

Upstairs is hip and ultra-chic, with an open kitchen and fabulous lighting. The cocktails exhibit a collaboration between the kitchen and the bar, as many of the mixed drinks contain house-made simple syrups flavored with seasonal ingredients like citrus or mint. The artisanal cocktails are accompanied by very inventive, quirky names, like the heavy hitting Smoking Corpse ($11), which is a Gin cocktail with Chartreuse, Citrus, and smoke.

For something a little lighter, the refreshing Charo ($11) made with cucumber infused vodka, enriched with the seasonal flavors of jalapeno and mint that really wakes up the palate. 

Then, there’s my favorite, the Madhatter ($11). The Madhatter, a play on the name of the cocktail “Manhattan,” is made with Makers Mark Bourbon, and contains Orange Bitters and pecan simple syrup. The subtle notes of vanilla and caramel enhance the rich bourbon, while the orange keeps it fresh and bright. It is rich, smooth and, honestly, does the trick.

Upstairs offers wine by the glass and the bottle. I recommend the 2007 Bommarito Cab, Shelley Emling’s favorite is the 2008 Rioja, and Scott Hirshberg, general manager of Upstairs, recommends the 2008 Petalos Mencia Bierzo. Upstairs also carries beers ranging from $4 -$7, with one beer a Belgian Triple Ale, Maredsous Tripel, priced at $8. 

Click here to see Upstairs' bartender, Joe Landolfi, mix up a Madhatter!

So what’s your favorite bar in Montclair? Do you think the town would benefit from another liquor license?

mtc parent September 06, 2011 at 10:45 AM
Maybe the Smoking Corpse had been hit by "fabulous lightening."
Melody Kettle September 06, 2011 at 11:08 AM
That's a possibility. ;) Will fix, thanks for the tip!
Tara Chowaniec September 06, 2011 at 11:24 AM
The Charo was sublime and they serve Cava by the glass, that did it for me
profwilliams September 06, 2011 at 12:13 PM
WOW!!! What a beautiful, hot, and swank looking place. (The gorgeous women in the photo help too!!) Can't wait to try it. (Oh, and the video on HFTK won't play because it's listed as "private.") In town, I like the bar at Halcyon (the crab cakes there are amazing...); though nothing is better than a beer and burger at Tierney’s on a snow day.
Kevin September 06, 2011 at 01:28 PM
Great looking place! Thanks for the info and I will be sure to stop by soon.
Melinda September 06, 2011 at 02:07 PM
Don't know about the stairs, but the prices are steep!
Melody Kettle September 06, 2011 at 02:34 PM
Hi Prof, Fixed the video settings. Thanks!
Carol Selman September 06, 2011 at 04:02 PM
Very smart women, as well as great looking, I might add...
profwilliams September 06, 2011 at 05:23 PM
And I believe I saw a few of them this morning at Toast (the little prof and I were enjoying our last day of Summer together). I said, "Hey, Patch people." One- not sure who- said "Hi." Crazy, huh? Despite some who want to tell us what's "authentic" and what's not, they were eating at a local breakfast spot. Judging by those "others," I would have thought the Patch folks only ate at non-authentic (read: national) chains.
Melody Kettle September 06, 2011 at 05:25 PM
Although I wasn't one of the "Patch people" at Toast this morning, I just had a wonderful lunch at Brick Lane with my two "Little People."
Tara Chowaniec September 06, 2011 at 06:02 PM
while I am a sucker for the huevos rancheros at Toast, sadly it was not me either.
Kevin September 06, 2011 at 06:21 PM
Prof, you are lucky Jessica didn't drop an F-bomb on you!
Jessica Wolf September 06, 2011 at 06:36 PM
Alas, I was not at Toast either. But the F-Bombs, I reserve for my kids and tennis friends. :-)
Carrie Babcock September 09, 2011 at 01:40 PM
PS, it's right next to Fred Astaire! Hint hint!
Raymond Helfrich May 13, 2012 at 04:02 AM
Doesn’t Halcyon share Egan’s? So isn’t there one more?

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