Eat/Drink is NEXTpittsburgh’s weekly glance at the local food scene.

Shonk will oversee Wigle’s North Side whiskey garden
When Wigle Whiskey opens its new barrelhouse and whiskey garden in the Spring Garden neighborhood of the North Side at the end of May, there’ll be a face familiar to the Pittsburgh cocktail scene running the show.

Wigle has hired Wes Shonk, previously of Downtown’s Butcher and the Rye and Shadyside’s 1947 Tavern, to run the facility.

While the 10,000 square-foot space will be used mostly to store barrels of aging spirits — the distillery is all but completely full — an attached garage and lots on either side of the building will serve as entertainment and event space, complete with Wigle’s own cocktail bar. That’s where much of Shonk’s expertise comes in.

He’s used to crafting drinks with the concept of a specific taste in mind. Then he’ll tinker around, trying every variation imaginable to produce the kind of flavor and feel his brain prescribes to his taste buds, regardless of the quality or cost of the ingredients involved. When he crafts cocktail recipes around a certain spirit, it’s an entirely different challenge.

“When I set out to make drinks with a particular spirit, I’ll smell it, I’ll taste it at different temperatures and proofs and figure out the big things I’m getting out of it and what I want to highlight out of it,” Shonk says. “That’s what I’m going to do here.”

Like the distillery, the barrelhouse will offer tours and cocktails, but it will also have a stage for live entertainment, additional seating, a garden featuring some of the ingredients Wigle uses to make its products and food from the distillery’s Strip District neighbor, Thin Man Sandwich Shop.

While Shonk has already set about creating new cocktails for the bar menu, he’s also lobbying for an expanded repertoire of products.

“I’m making a push for us to buy some Chambersburg peaches this fall,” he says. “If you go back far enough, people grew peaches in western central Pennsylvania and they were making peach brandy, so I want to barrel age a peach brandy. It’s in a bunch of classic cocktails and no one really makes it the truly authentic way so that it has a big, dry peach flavor so that it doesn’t attain any sweetness until it’s been in a barrel.”

Burgatory opens fourth location
Burgatory, the local purveyors of extravagant gourmet hamburgers and alcoholic milkshakes, opened a new location on the Waterfront in West Homestead last week.

Three more locations are planned, including installations in Downtown’s Market Square and on the North Shore near Heinz Field.

Own a piece of Pappa J’s
The owners of Pappa J’s Centro, the Italian restaurant and bar which is locally famous for having operated as a brothel until 1937, will auction off everything in the restaurant on Saturday, May 3, at 9 a.m.

Pappa J’s has been closed since November when a gas leak discovered during the Veterans Day parade forced the city to revoke its occupancy permit. Further code violations made keeping the building a functioning restaurant prohibitively expensive. The building, which stands at 212 Boulevard of the Allies, dates to 1862, and is known as much for its historic décor and memorabilia as it ever was for its fare.

Pappa J’s location in Carnegie remains open for business.

Hughes takes over Six Penn
Cory Hughes, the sous chef at Six Penn Kitchen in Downtown, has assumed the role of the restaurant’s executive chef. Before joining the Eat’n Park-owned Cultural District eatery, Hughes worked as executive chef at Café at the Frick.

Matthew Wein

Matthew Wein is a local writer, editor, blogger, storyteller and proud native Pittsburgher. Once described as "a man of things," he covers city design, spirits and craft beer for NEXT, where he keeps all...