Drinks of the week: Cocktails at Denmark

Beth Stallings, Columbus Crave

New craft cocktail and small plates bar Denmark opens today in the Short North.

From the second you walk in, you can tell this spot is different from other craft cocktail bars in town. There are no Edison light bulbs, no apothecary decor, no vintage touches. It's decidedly European-clean and modern with blond wood floors, bright orange walls, a red banquette and green and yellow soft seating. There's a large L-shaped granite bar lighted by white, point-light chandeliers. Denmark is located on the second floor of the Yankee on High building, and one wall of the bar is all windows overlooking High Street.

The bar and food program is run by industry veteran Garry White, a chef by training and bartender by passion, who looked to create a cocktail list that pays homage to old and new classics, and a short shared-plates menu (think bar snacks, flatbreads and cheese boards with house-made jams and preserves) to complement. (For more on his vision, check out our Q&A with White in the current issue of Crave.)

Head downstairs to the basement where the owners of Denmark have also opened The Secret Cellar, a wine, beer and cheese shop. Grab something to go, or pull up a seat (there are a few stools around a table) for a tasting or two. Next to the retail shop is the North Room, a private event space that can hold parties for up to 50 people.

We were impressed at a sneak peek this week and are looking forward to seeing this space grow. Here's a quick look at a few drinks we sampled:

Black and Blue Manhattan (bourbon, vermouth, blueberry shrub, black walnut bitters): This cocktail riffs on the classic in a slightly fruity, yet still potent way. If you're a fan of shrubs, this is a must-try. It's smooth and pleasantly acidic with just a touch of fruit. The typical cherry garnish is swapped for a string of balsamic blueberries.

Pecan Old Fashion (spiced pecan bourbon, maple syrup, aromatic bitters): The syrup adds a bit of sweet and a little thicker mouth-feel-both welcome touches as the spiced bourbon definitely packs some heat.

The Flip (gin, orange syrup, rosemary tincture, lime juice, egg white): Frothy, refreshing and herbaceous, take a deep breath as you sip this frothy concoction, because half the fun is in the strong rosemary aroma.

Northern Lights (aquavit, orange liqueur, sweet vermouth, lemon bitters): This barrel-aged cocktail is crafted with house-made aquavit (a favorite of the owners, who loved sipping the Scandinavian spirit while abroad). It's smooth, slightly floral, a little oaky and ends with a welcomed bitter finish.