When downtown's Goro and Gunn closed suddenly at the end of August with the promise of a new bar (sans restaurant), curious cocktail lovers wondered what partners/veteran bar pros Alex Gregg, Ryan Rouse, and Brad Moore would come up with for the Main Street space. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when Moving Sidewalk opened its doors. With Pastry War and Bad News Bar on one side of Main Street and the Little Dipper on the other side of the bar, the name rings true as the area is often like a "moving sidewalk of bar traffic" as customers drop in and out of each to enjoy drinks at the various destination bars that have emerged in the north end of downtown.
We sat down with managing partner/beverage director Alex Gregg about the philosophy at the new space and what customers can look forward to there.
You're an Anvil/Pass and Provisions alum and were recently named as one of the "Ten Bartenders to Watch" by Beverage Media Group. Do you think people are sometimes intimidated about coming to a bar known for such a strong cocktail program?
The cocktail movement has grown out of its infancy and even from its adolescent stage. You have to ask yourself, what's the goal with all these fancy drinks and techniques? Ultimately it's just for bars to be better as more people pick up the craft. We all like to hang out in bars and drink Lone Star and even have a shot of Jager if the mood strikes. The experience should be fun and my personal philosophy on liquor brands— just like politics and religion— doesn't belong in a conversation over the bar. I just want people to have a good time.
Everything tastes better when you're in a good mood.
So really, you're not going to judge us if we order a vodka/soda?
The core objective is hospitality: call cabs, hold doors, make friends with people, and have a good time. One of my mentors on hospitality and apprenticeship is Joaquin Simo of Pouring Ribbons in NYC . He said, "Everything tastes better when you're in a good mood." We're working to have our cake and eat it, too. We want to do world-class cocktails and eventually offer the same in terms of our bottled beer program. We will continue to add limited but fun and interesting wine options, too. There will be no drafts, but our full-size walk-in will allow for a really cool beer selection— some cellared for years or even longer. Whatever people order, it's all about the experience— a great, hospitable door host, a warm welcome at the bar, water without asking for it.
Tell us about the new cocktail menu and what are you the most excited to serve from it.
Everyone on the staff took part in creating the recipes, which was a really cool process. There are eight featured cocktails so far. All six bartenders stayed on with us for the transition, which is a big deal considering they knew they'd be out of work for three weeks. It meant a lot. The Anna Nicole Smith has already become our house cocktail. It's really a combination of two drinks, the White Lady and the classic Corpse Reviver No. 2. It has gin, lemon, and Curacao with Lillet and absinthe and they way we do it, it's almost like one drink beneath the other. It has a cool presentation using liquid nitrogen. It all comes down to the details: what kind of glass, what kind of ice, and even the temperature of the glass. All those things have an impact on the drink. I remember back when I didn't think that hand-cut ice would make a big difference but then I learned that it did in a big way. Everything we do in house and the enthusiasm of the staff factors in. We're all learning and doing it together, and that makes a difference.