Story by Taylor Starek
Columbus isn’t hurting for craft anything.
Local craft breweries are certainly having a heyday, and craft cocktails menus, thankfully, have sprouted up in tandem. Try Mouton or Denmark, two popular Short North spots touting vintage and vintage-inspired creations, on a Saturday and you’re bound to rub shoulders, quite literally, with other enthusiastic imbibers.
But Soul, the bar tucked inside The Joseph hotel, has somehow managed to fly just a touch below the radar since it opened in early 2015.
It’s an intimate space, with a crowd that teeters between impeccably dressed Downtown professionals and curiously hip out-of-towners (this is a hotel lobby, after all).
But its shining glory is, no surprise here, the craft cocktail list—12 creative inventions with ingredients that’ll require explanation from your well-versed bartender.
You have Roger Vivas, food and beverage director for the hotel and formerly the general manager at G. Michael’s Bistro & Bar, to thank for that. Vivas, originally from Venezuela, is a traveler, and he chalks the variety of the menu up to his curious palate.
Take the Rye & Thai ($11), for example: Rye is infused with chili peppers for 25 minutes to give it a comfortable warmth and served on the rocks with mezcal, curacao and Angostura bitters. Inspired by a spicy drink in Southeast Asia (that version is brewed with snakes), Vivas wanted to create a cocktail with heat.
If you’re craving something new, Vivas is especially proud of a newer drink called the Rising Sun ($13). When he discovered Kiuchi No Shizuku, a Japanese spirit distilled from one of his favorite Hitachino ales, he knew he had to get it in a cocktail. Citrus is the dominant flavor here, but don’t let that fool you: This drink is strong. Yellow Chartreuse, Old Tom gin and lemon juice work together wonderfully to keep up the smooth illusion.
“It’s quite a trick in itself,” Vivas says. “It’s on the heavy side with liquor on liquor, which is how I like my cocktails, but it’s rather interesting.”