In the fine-dining realm, tableside-preparation usually involves tossed Caesar salads or flambéed bananas Foster. But at the Mercury in Atlanta, it’s the bartenders who are getting in on the act, essentially bringing the whole bar out into the dining room—glasses, ice, liquor, garnish, and all—to mix up one of the Mercury’s Tableside Cocktails for Four.
“It’s an opportunity for the bartenders to interact with the guests at the tables,” says Julian Goglia, beverage director and one-third of the partnership behind the Mercury and its sister restaurant the Pinewood. “You bring everything to the table and you get to talk to people, and join their experience. I think it’s enjoyable on our end and theirs.”
The restaurant’s décor and 36-seat wrap-around bar draw inspiration from luxury hotels and restaurants of the ’50s and ’60s—and its menu follows suit. “The majority of our drinks are just stone-cold classics,” Goglia says, including all four of the tableside cocktails, from the scotch-heavy Rob Roy to vodka or gin martinis elevated by high-quality ingredients. Goglia cites Cocchi Vermouth di Torino as a gamechanger in the Tableside Manhattan, one of the most popular cocktails for four, as well as a rotating cast of rye whiskeys—lately, he says, they’ve been pouring Bulleit.
“It is insane how readily available all the coolest cocktail tools are—you can get ahold of the fanciest mixing glasses at your local package stores. But you don’t really need those things to make a great cocktail,” he says. “It’s all about quality ingredients. Just grab a good bottle, a pint glass, and a spoon.”
You may have to visit Atlanta to get the full tableside-prep experience, but you don’t have to leave your house to make a solid Manhattan—or four. Goglia shares the Mercury’s straightforward recipe below.