They have the pedigree, but Christy Pope and Chad Solomon swear they’re not drinking snobs.
As co-founders of the New York-based beverage consulting company Cuffs & Buttons, they could be excused for turning up their noses at some Old Crow. Not everyone wants to hang out with the Bukowskis of the world, but Pope and Solomon know that it doesn’t hurt every once in a while.
“We consider ourselves unabashed enthusiasts,” Solomon says. “There’s nothing wrong with cheaper drinks; it’s all about context. We’re as likely to drink a Miller High Life as we are a Manhattan.”
“We consider ourselves unabashed enthusiasts,” Solomon says. “We’re as likely to drink a Miller High Life as we are a Manhattan.”
That attitude is helping them to establish the bar menu for the Joule’s new eatery CBD Provisions, from Consilient’s Tristan Simon, opening in spring 2013. The beverage program will center on modern American cocktails done simply and consistently.
“This is a pretty sizable restaurant,” Pope says, “so we’re focusing on doing classic drinks that can be done at a high volume. We’re not going crazy with the innovation. We want to do really killer renditions of these three- or four-ingredient drinks.”
They are focusing on what they consider the “mother sauces” of cocktails — sours, Collins, fizzes and aperitifs.
Solomon and Pope have had a hand in the Dallas cocktail scene dating back to 2008, when Pope was a consultant for Victor Tangos, another Consilient spot. She also designed the bar menu at Simon’s now-closed Alma.
So when Simon called her up a few months ago to talk about CBD, she and Solomon were listening.
“We had developed a great relationship with Tristan,” Pope says. “So we came down to see the space.”
Pope and Solomon now have a residence in Dallas. They split their time between here and New York, as they work on Cuffs & Buttons and establish what they want CBD to be.
“Dallas is where New York was in about 2006,” Pope says, referring to the mixology scene. “There’s definitely this enthusiasm in the bartenders.”
“Dallas is where New York was in about 2006,” Pope says, referring to the mixology scene. “There’s definitely this enthusiasm in the bartenders, and they’re teaching the clientele. Of course, drinkers have a more evolved palate. It’s about getting the general clientele to pick up on it, and then it grows from there.”
Solomon believes that there is now a holistic approach to dining.
“It’s not just about great food or great drinks,” he says. “It’s experiential, and it’s causing everyone to step up into that space.”
But they’re also interested in just how much marketing has to do with what people consider quality spirits.
“The branding and marketing can obfuscate the product itself,” Solomon says. “We’ve found that when we do a blind selection, there are some phenomenal down-market drinks that people really like.”
So when CBD starts serving drinks next spring, don’t worry too much about whether that whiskey sour is full of Maker’s Mark or Old Crow. Just worry about whether it’s good or not. With Solomon and Pope behind the bar, chances are it will be.