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The Courtesy

Written By Scott Joseph On September 24, 2012

CourtesyA friend and I ducked in to the Courtesy, a new bar on Orange Avenue near Washington Street in downtown Orlando. It was a rainy night and we were looking for something to warm ourselves. We would have to make do with the cocktails because the greeting certainly wasn’t going to do it.

You’d think with a name like Courtesy the staff would be more welcoming. I’d hate to think it was because if you combined the ages of all the other patrons in the bar they wouldn’t equal the sum of our two ages. Whatever. While neither bartender sneered at us, neither were they eager to make two new customers feel at home.

It’s a pity because I had high hopes for the Courtesy. Their mission statement is to offer handcrafted cocktails fashioned out of “spirits and ingredients of only the highest caliber.” Fresh juices and ingredients are touted, and Kevin Fonzo of K restaurant has created a line of house-made sodas to be sipped on their own or added to a drink. Indeed, Fonzo has invited the Courtesy to provide the reception cocktails when he, Hari Pulapaka (Cress) and Gregory Richie (Emeril’s Tchoup Chop) cook at the Beard House in New York next month.

I hope no one there orders a Rob Roy because Manhattanites are sure to know a proper one, as opposed to a perfect one, but they’ll also know what that means. A Rob Roy, of course, is a cocktail of scotch, vermouth and a dash of bitters. Now, one could argue about the definition of a dash, but few would say it means five or six shakes into the cocktail. (I would call that five or six dashes.) But that’s how my friend’s drink was made. It was, unfortunately, undrinkable.

I ordered the Corpse Reviver from the bar’s menu of specialty cocktails. It featured Death’s Door gin, St. George courtesy pourabsinthe, Cointreau and lemon. It was quite drinkable, and I liked the bit of sour from the citrus.

I wanted to like the interior but it just didn’t feel comfortable. I think the designer was going for a bygone era feeling, maybe urban revivalist. The flannel shirts and flat-top caps of the bartenders would suggest an early 20th century mien. 

Apparently the bar is putting more of its focus on the creation of new cocktails or reimagining the classics. There were others on the list that sounded interesting. I question the insensitivity of naming a cocktail the Betty Ford Bloody Mary, which is not, as you might guess, an alcohol-free rendition.

I can fully champion the reinvention of classic cocktails with new twists — literal or figurative — but a proper bar needs to know the recipe the classic is built upon. To his credit, the bartender offered to remake my friend’s Rob Roy, but by then we were over it. Neither the attitude of the staff nor the coolness of the urban interior made us want to stay. We took our chances back out in the rain.

The Courtesy is at 114 N. Orange Ave., Orlando. It is open nightly until 2 a.m. Here is a link to thecourtesybar.com. The phone number is 407-704-9288.{jcomments on}

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