Round Corner Cantina aims to straddle a line between speed and style. "Keep it simple: That's the theme of where we're going, because we do a lot of volume here," says partner and bar manager Sarah Fitzgerald.
But for Fitzgerald, simple doesn't mean standard. Quickly mixed, clever cocktails have been crafted at the Lawrenceville establishment since it opened nearly three years ago. But Fitzgerald feels like the bar is truly hitting its mixological stride now.
"It's taken us a minute," she says. "We wanted to get tequila out there, get people to trust us first before we started introducing them to new ingredients."
Now, having built that trust, the watering hole has updated its drinks menu.
The new cocktails either tweak classic recipes, or are built around specific liquors. The thirst-quenching Salty Maiden, for example, is a contemporary version of a Salty Dog: Fitzgerald replaces traditional vodka with floral Nolet's gin, adding a dash of St. Germain elderflower liqueur to the grapefruit-juice base.
The San Juan Star is built around Oronoco, a Brazilian rum characterized by a smooth, grassy vanilla sweetness. Fresh guava juice, strawberry, pineapple and soda round out the recipe. "We wanted something that tasted like you were at the beach, without making some kind of frozen piña colada," Fitzgerald explains.
Fancy Mezcal isn't quite a cocktail; it's a generous pour of Scorpion mezcal gussied up with char-grilled pineapple and jalapeño. The mezcal's smokiness blends harmoniously with the jalapeño's heat, which steadily builds as it sits in the glass. (The pineapple, though, feels more like a throwaway garnish; adding it just before service gives the fruit too little time to integrate with the liquor.)
For her creations, Fitzgerald looked to an unexpected source of inspiration — writers. "Whenever I think of gin, I always think of Dorothy Parker and Adirondack chairs," she says about the gin-loving Roaring '20s writer.
And the results are drinks that come fast ... without cutting corners.