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Taps: 5 / Bottles: 100
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: Y
Ratings: 2 | Reviews: 1 | Show All Ratings:
Reviews by DaPeculierDane:
4.18/5 rDev +25.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$$
I made the mistake of going to Merchant right after it opened with a group of a dozen or so people. Our waiter warned us with a hint of snobbery that drinks would be rather costly $9 on average, which is quite high for Madison, and that prep time on each drink would average around 15 minutes. Many in our group nearly left but I wanted to see what this new place could produce and was happy to wait. After 12 or 13 minutes I was beginning to change my mind and found my self saying, “This better be the best damned drink I’ve ever had.” A few minutes later I had a drink in my hand that nearly was.
I’ve since returned several times but only with small groups and I do my best to sit at the bar which reduces wait time for their truly exquisite cocktails. To this day I still haven’t ordered a beer at Merchant and I can’t say I have any plans to do so in the future. They are a craft cocktail bar and when I’m craving a particularly creative and tasty beverage they’re probably the best spot in Madison right now.
That said they have a respectable beer selection, featuring roughly 50 beers. Most are from Wisconsin craft breweries but Oskar Blues, Goose Island, and New Belgium are prominently featured along with a few macro-imports like Peroni and Leffe Blonde.
I’ve been very pleased with their food thus far. It’s an upscale/small-plate/slow food sort of place featuring plenty of local/organic products. Small snacks are available for around 5 bucks. Entrées which will please the palate but might not fill the belly run around $20.
Ambiance is excellent. It manages to balance a market/deli theme (they sell booze and various food products to go) with an intimate setting. Merchant is a great place to take a date.
Service has been outstanding at each of my visits since the first. The bartenders are really artists in their trade and the staff shows a genuine passion for their product.
Merchant is a great bar but just a good beer bar. Perhaps with time they will develop a craft beer focus to match their outstanding craft cocktail menu.
12-14-2011 21:09:52 | More by DaPeculierDane
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Merchant in Madison, WI
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