When Chef Hugh Acheson, two-time James Beard Award winner, opened his new restaurant, By George in Atlanta, clearly he wanted to ensure the beverage program was a major shining star of the show. Enlisting his longtime collaborator and thirsty favorite, Kellie Thorn, as beverage director, the duo certainly wanted to ensure the bar offerings complemented the French-inspired culinary menu. Thorn is considered one of the experts stateside in French spirits and certainly uses that knowledge at By George. “We have a very French inflected menu and a lot of our focus is on French spirits, because we LOVE them. We also have a Classics list that is very much inspired by the Lost Generation and I am very grateful to Phillip Greene’s ‘A Drinkable Feast’ for the inspiration when I was compiling that list.” For the wine, sommelier Steven Grubbs curated the list with over 100 by the bottle and 20 selections by the glass.
Words on By George with Kellie Thorn
How did you go about creating the cocktail menu for By George and how would you describe it?
I wanted to create something that featured French spirits, but it was important to me to not be gimmicky. I wanted to make sure it still felt authentic, genuine and approachable for our guests that maybe aren’t as versed in some of these spirits. The house cocktails all have some sort of French spirit and we have an eye to classic formulas, but we expand on those with our own personal touches. Our approach with most of our cocktails is nuance and complexity through simplicity. Our classics list is very much influenced by what ex-pats were drinking in Paris in the 20’s and 30’s, think Boulevardiers and Sidecars, but we also have a Rhum Agricole Daiquiri on that list.
Now that you are open, what is the most popular cocktail?
There is this Mattei Cap Corse Blanc based lower abv cocktail on the menu that has Great King Street ‘Artist’s Blend’ Scotch, Absinthe, St. Germain, and Apple Bitters. It’s stirred, it’s called En Melody and it’s one of my pets. I love creating lower abv drinks that are rich in texture and layered, but admittedly fortified wine cocktails with Absinthe can sometimes take a little more conversation to sell. That one has been really well received though. It’s nice to see. Otherwise, we sell a lot of The Candler, La Bonne Longue, Airbus and Two World Hero. Honestly, most of our printed cocktails sell well. We are fortunate to have the trust of our guests when it comes to our drinks.
Anything you can tell us about the Cognac & Armagnac menu?
Oooh. I love fruit distillates so much. When Hugh told me were opening a French restaurant, my first thought was that I get to build a killer Cognac, Armagnac, and Calvados menu. It’s still growing, but a good deal of our producers are smaller and maybe not as well known, but the liquid is so lovely.
Pro-Tips from Kellie
I am really hoping to get more French spirits in people’s glasses, specifically Brandy. The best tip I can give, is to trust us and maybe step out of your comfort zone a little bit. We have some really beautiful spirits from some remarkable producers and we want to share them with you and tell you their stories.
The restaurant is open for breakfast, but the bar opens at 11am and stays open until 11pm. I love that no matter the time of day, you can get a great glass of wine of cocktail at our bar. I recommend taking some time to explore the hotel. We are located in a beautiful historic building and good bit of the touches like the Tiffany Chandeliers are original to the building. It’s a transportive experience.
By George Details
By George is open seven days a week for Breakfast from 6:30am – 10:30am; Lunch from 11:30am – 2:30pm; and Dinner from 5:30pm – 10:00pm, located at 127 Park PL NE, Atlanta, GA / WEBSITE
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