New bar: Curio at Harvest

From the June 7, 2012 edition

Meta Curio cocktail recipe:

3 parts Vintage Prohibition Aesthetic

2 parts Contemporary Sophistication

Aromatic bitters

Gently muddle Vintage Prohibition Aesthetic with Contemporary Sophistication to release their essential oils. Vigorously shake with aromatic bitters to create complex quaffs that cleverly taste distinct yet familiar and also flaunt refreshingly bracing finishes. Pour into hip drinking vessels graced with uncommonly pure “artisanal ice” frozen into giddily varying shapes and sizes. Enjoy in the hottest — and coolest — new place in town.

It’s fitting that Curio at Harvest bears its parent’s name (Harvest is the German Village pizzeria), because like Athena springing fully formed from the head of Zeus, both brilliantly conceived businesses burst out in immediately mature and attractive conditions. In other words, there was little need to recklessly speed around a steep learning curve.

Literally annexed to Harvest, Curio is the first bar in Columbus to offer the combo of vanguard commodities recently popularized in such metropolises as NYC and D.C.: speakeasy-era-riffing taverns concocting cutting-edge cocktails. As such, Curio is a triumph.

Copious old-timey accoutrements blend with newer touches in this small two-room operation (Curio also shares Harvest’s patio, where you can enjoy Curio’s inspired cocktails with Harvest’s great pizzas). Curio’s parlor-like back chamber is equipped with a hearth, settees and Roaring ’20s-type wallpaper, but also modular furniture cubes and ironic art.

Replete with bitters-loaded medicine droppers, Curio’s wood-grainy barroom contains a semi-ancient cash register, card catalog, an actual curio cabinet (packed with spices and yet more bitters) as well as neat Magrittean hats “floating” in the middle of a large glass case (ceci n’est pas un chapeau?), an old “train house” table and handsome, carved-wood two-tops.

Here are some of the delightful beverages ($10) — which generally put creative spins on classic libation combinations — you can have placed atop Curio’s napkin-like, frayed burlap sack “coasters.”

The Waylon Margarita: A complex aroma (partly from an intriguing touch of kale and smoked salt rim) emanating from a spring green liquid cooled by a single huge ice cube precedes a refreshing rush of citrus terminating in a deliciously spicy, bitter and gingery finish

The Winchester Cup: Focused Pimm’s No.1 and Four Roses bourbon-laced Assam iced tea with compelling, Benedictine-derived herbal notes

Room with a Grand View: A frothy, creamy and round body (from egg whites) propelled by citrusy legs (lemon and Watershed gin) gets the last word in from its Angostura bitters-fueled finish

Silver Dollar Pony: A light and orangey refresher in which Aperol, lemon, demerara sugar and bitters hide Four Roses bourbon like a master magician

The Old Sevillian: Five spice played nice in a new “Old Fashioned” way with bourbon, sweet orange, bitters and another large cube of ice

Hickory Stick Bourbon: Fernet Branca, vermouths, bitters and whiffs of smoke recall an out-of-control, candied fruit and candy cane-laden Christmas party uproariously set aflame.