Pittsburgh Dining » On The Rocks

With "all-star" bartenders, Butcher and the Rye stakes a claim on Downtown drinking scene

"It's been a labor of love over the last few months to see how much whiskey we can acquire."

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The first thing any boozehound will notice upon entering Butcher and the Rye, the new Downtown restaurant from Meat & Potatoes partners Richard DeShantz and Tolga Sevdik, is the gigantic wall of ... bourbon and rye. There are currently over 329 bottles of booze displayed, ranging from the everyday (yes, you can get a shot of Jack Daniels) to the ultra-rare: At $300 per pour, the A.H. Hirsch Reserve is intended for special occasions.

"It's been a labor of love over the last few months to see how much whiskey we can acquire," says beverage director Mike Mills. The list, he says, "is always going to grow, and it's always going to change."

There's also a roster of classic and contemporary cocktails, served by an all-star squad of local bartenders. Wes Shonk (formerly at 1947 Tavern), Maggie Meskey and Erika Joyner (both formerly of Salt of the Earth) lead a knowledgeable and engaging crew. "It's awesome how high a level of talent these guys have," Mills says.

"This is a really great team behind the bar," echoes DeShantz, the restaurant's executive chef. "They're going to take care of you."

"I'm proud of this. It's a piece of me," adds DeShantz, who designed the whimsical, yet classy, space.

The restaurant's upstairs bar is more intimate but no less detailed, down to the rabbit-ear purse hangers. Mills says that upstairs will have the same bourbon and cocktail menu that's offered downstairs, and also an additional "Black Book" of up to 50 cocktails for patrons to choose from.

With Grit & Grace — an American dim sum concept from the team behind Spoon — set to open along Liberty Avenue in December, and DeShantz already planning a tequila-and-taco bar next door to Butcher, Downtown's drinks scene is set to boom.

It's a shame there isn't better late-night public transit or taxi service to get drinkers home, however. With what Butcher and the Rye offers, they might just need it.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the name of this restaurant in two places.

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