Since opening in April of this year, the Lawrence has been quietly evolving in their dimly lit corner of Midtown. At first, the restaurant was open just a few days a week, now they're open every day but Monday, including brunch service on Sunday. The menu has continually changed, bringing seasonal dishes in and out and adding a bit more emphasis on chef Shane Devereux's affinity for French cooking. And now bartender Eric Simpkins, who initially served a very abbreviated selection of classic drinks, is rewriting their drink list to include a lengthy, inventive array of cocktails.
I ate at the chef's table, a two-person marble countertop poised to watch the kitchen while you eat, this past weekend and Simpkins dropped by to show off a rough draft of his new cocktail list. You can check it out below. In addition to the ten house recipes, he adds a couple of neat touches: cocktail recipes from other bartenders around the country and space for changing seasonal innovations. I had the 8th & Juniper #2, an herbaceous drink that was both to and entirely distinct from a Negroni, with a plate of some decadent steak tartare and ended the night with rabbit leg confit and the Robert L. Burnside, a whiskey-sipping nod to the late blues guitarist served in a jar.
You might be able to cajole Simpkins into making one of those drinks for you this week, but he plans to put the new drink menu out by October 23. By that time, the list, which is still being tweaked, should be ready to go.
The chef's table, by the way, is the way to go. Devereux has a quiet and exacting presence; watching him put the final touches on his plates is a real pleasure.