Joe Raya’s passion for the craft of drink-making and tireless attention to detail has earned the Gin Joint a reputation as one of the country’s leading destinations for cocktail fans. It’s not just a matter of a guy making his own bitters and researching old pre-Prohibition drink recipes. We’re talking someone so dedicated he bought a Clinebell machine that makes ice in 300 pound blocks intended for ice sculptures, which he breaks down with a chainsaw and sledgehammmer. He smokes B-grade maple syrup to bring out its silky, buttery notes, then blends it into a smoked maple Manhattan that’s superbly rich and complex. The Gin Joint is a husband-and-wife operation with a small but dedicated crew. Joe mans the bar while MariElena Raya turns out an impressive array of small bites and treats. The warm soft pretzels with sriracha-laced cheese are always reliable, while the housemade beef jerky, tinged with ginger and chili, may well be the most intensely flavored bar snack ever. There’s a deep list of quality bourbons, scotches, and rums, but the real action is on the ever-rotating menu of cocktails that come straight from the Gilded Age. Wise imbibers turn to the “Bartender’s Choice” and pick two themes from the word bank — for example, sweet and strong, or bitter and smoky — and leave the rest up to the bow-tied gentlemen behind the bar. You never know quite what you’ll get, but it’s guaranteed to be delicious.
—Robert Moss Dish (Winter 2013)
Classic cocktails, three types of ice, and a menu of compelling bar snacks and small plates (truffle-poached egg, pig in a pot).
Features: Sunday Brunch, Dinner, Late Night
Hours: D. Opens at 5 p.m. Sun. brunch