David Keating has hundreds of cocktails ideas in his alcohol arsenal. But when Bridges & Bourbon opens next month, only the best will make a direct hit on the menu.
Together with his business partners Scott Shaffer, Benny McCarney and chef David Racicot, the certified mixologist and sommelier is bringing upscale nightlife to Downtown Pittsburgh.
Located at 930 Penn Ave. in a space that once housed Seviche, Bridges & Bourbon will feature modernist cocktails that are more like fluid works of art.
In addition to an extensive list of bourbons, bartenders will use a variety of spirits, as well as liquid nitrogen, vapors and other dazzling techniques that allow customers to be a part of the beverage-making process.
The U B Warhol, for instance, is a gin-based concoction infused with butterfly pea flowers. When guests add a splash of plum juice, the acidity changes the color.
Keating also invents beverages based on his personal experiences. The Appalachian Trail is an ode to a hiking trip. It’s made with basil (to represent the greenery), smoky mescal (which mimics a campfire), blackberries (just like the ones he picked along the trail) and rye (a spirit historically made in Appalachia).
“A lot of the cocktails are going to have names of famous mixologists and restaurateurs; people who influenced me,” says Keating, a Pittsburgh native who studied his craft in Chicago.
Small plates will complement the drink menu.
Racicot, a veteran chef who was most recently with the Richard DeShantz hotspot Poulet Bleu, is working on cutting-edge recipes.
“This style of food has always been something I’ve been drawn to; the tiny nuances and complexities and the artistic aspect of it,” he says. “And I have the opportunity to do it in a small plate format, which is the way I like to eat.”
The Bridges & Bourbon concept, including its dark and romantically lit atmosphere, allows the average consumer to enjoy high-end cuisine in a posh setting without spending an entire paycheck in one evening.
The owners have spent a year gutting the building, walling off the formerly open kitchen to give the 100-seat space a more intimate vibe. The décor is classic contemporary, with dark blue walls, tan woods, white marble and gold accents, including light fixtures custom-made in Greece.
“It’s going to be one of the most beautiful restaurants in the city,” Keating says.