New bar The Commoner stands out | On The Rocks | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

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New bar The Commoner stands out

D├ęcor, pork-belly cocktails among the attractions

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If you step out of the wind and through the doorway of The Commoner Restaurant & Bar, you'll descend into a warmly lit atrium of glossy, forest-green tile, brass accents and beautifully hand-finished floors. If you take a seat at the bar, you'll descend into a robust menu of delectable libations fit for the cocktail enthusiast, beer aficionado or wine-lover.

Having just opened its doors Jan. 20, Downtown's The Commoner — located inside Kimpton's Hotel Monaco — has already had several sterling local reviews. The enthusiasm of both staff and customers is palpable. "I'm happy to be back behind the bar," says lead bartender Joshua Holliday, the driving force behind the beverage program he curated with executive chef Dennis Marron. "With all the food ingredients I use behind the bar, [Marron] has been a giant help," Holliday says, grinning. "Most chefs would have kicked me out of the kitchen by now."

The care put into both food and beverage menus shows, with each tastefully balancing the other, even down to the bacon. "We found the perfect bacon," Holliday says. "I do a rendering-down for a fat wash. We went through four different types before we figured out what we were going to use." The result is The Commoner's signature take on an old-fashioned, made with pork belly-infused bourbon and oaked maple-barbeque bitters.

It's a wonder of a drink, giving at first taste the sensation of warm bacon from the frying pan, directly followed by a perfect, clean-citrus balance after the ice has melted. For those who'd prefer something lighter and decidedly less piggy, a gin and tonic with choice of hibiscus, elderflower or the house tonics, all made in house, offers a bright, floral reprieve. Finally, a thoughtful wine selection and a hand-selected list of 50 beers, overwhelmingly craft and many from Pennsylvania, give even the most discerning drinker something to sip on.

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