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This past weekend marked the opening of the new Tasting Room in the old M&R Bar space on Elizabeth just south of Houston. The bar is open for business to all comers, but it was mostly friends & family, and the food will be at least 10 days behind the booze. Speaking of old spaces, with this opening, the previous Tasting Room space on First Street is now closed until late summer when it will re-emerge as an all day spot open for coffee, baked goods, wine, and small plates.

When Gothamist popped by last Wednesday for a pre-F&F glimpse, Colin was working with his bar manager Richard and the bar crew on a series of first rate cocktails chock full of fresh juices, herbs, syrups and fresh bottled seltzer. Like the old location there will be no soda gun on premises, but they are working on some open source Coke – the sample on hand was clear and very reminiscent of the flavors one expects from classic Red. Unlike the old location, they will now be serving a broader selection of wines, venturing to old world wine making regions to round out the list of immaculately chosen red and white American classics and obscurities many associate with their wine list.

The liquor list is tightly focused with selections limited to the best of class for many categories – no Patron or Grey Goose here. Decisions to stock more than one type of liquor in major categories were driven by the desire to bring different facets of styles to bear. Case in point, for vodka while there are choices of product made from potato, wheat, rye and they decided at the last minute to add one more when they came across Zubrowka which was infused with Bison grass from near the Poland / Belarus border. Other interesting selections are 1993 pot distilled Trinidadian rum and Vya vermouth.

The buildout is not quite finished, but there are some impressive design features already installed in the front bar room. A gorgeous wine room was build by bending old flooring from the recently closed Levenbach lumber store on 13th and University around the front corner of the bar with floor to ceiling glass doors for access. Above the bar, prominently featured, is a red-orange cast of a Coelacanth, a peculiar fish that has been around for almost 400 million years. Local and national artists are lined up to do custom pieces throughout the whole space.

We can hardly wait 'till the food starts to be served, will be very interesting to see what a bunch of chefs who have been cramped up in a tiny kitchen without even hood capabilities will do with a fully equipped kitchen. Cocktail menu after the jump.

The Tasting Room, 264 Elizabeth Street, between Houston and Prince Streets, 212-358-7831

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