At the end of August, Chef Trey Bell of LaRue Elm opened Rue-Bar, a cocktail bar “dedicated to serving expertly crafted classic and original cocktails,” according to the press release. Rue-Bar is located at 318 S. Elm St. and is exactly a 12-minute walk from LaRue straight down the street. According to the press release, “In keeping with Bell’s style at LaRue Elm, Rue-Bar will bring a scientific approach to bartending, employing new techniques and technologies to produce delicious, time-honored and innovative cocktails.”
Collaborating with Bell is beverage manager Greg Schammel. Schammel is not alone behind the bar though. He said something that Rue-Bar is doing differently from other bars in the area is spotlighting different local bartenders. Schammel said on Thursdays he and Bell invite local bartenders to showcase their talents by curating their own cocktail lists and working at Rue-Bar for the night.
“They pump it up on social media so that it drives business here as well as their places of employment,” Schammel said.
All of the guest bartenders are apart of the Triad Beverage Alliance which is spearheaded by Schammel. The alliance exists for camaraderie purposes and educational purposes, Schammel said.
The press release states that Schammel borrows from Bell in the kitchen and uses a chamber vacuum sealer and centrifuge for his infusions as well as a food dehydrator for garnishes, dust and fruit leathers.
“Rue-Bar is a natural extension of our work at LaRue Elm,” explained Bell in the press release. “Having a dedicated bar will give Greg and our team the freedom to explore even more, and contribute to Greensboro’s food and beverage culture in an additional way.”
Some of Rue-Bar’s cocktails include homages to classic drinks with barrel-aged Negroni and their take on a Ramos Gin Fizz, called “Sanborn & Nolan,” which according to the press release, creates foam in a new way, using an iSi Whipping Siphon. Another one of their cocktail specialties includes grapefruit and rosemary-infused vodka topped with sparkling wine and smoked sugar and is called “All That Glitters Is Gold.” Then their “Little Trouble” is a Mezcal cocktail that is shaken and served up, with salt air as the garnish. According to the press release, Rue-Bar will also offer cocktails on draft, enabling them to serve well-crafted cocktails quickly, as well as a selection of wines by the glass and bottle, and beers in cans and bottles. Aside from specialty cocktails, drinks range from $5 to $10.
If you are feeling adventurous and experimental, however, there are a couple of drinks that you can order off Rue-Bar’s secret menu. I was treated to a sampling at the bar and was allowed to try three “off-the-menu” specialties Rue-Bar has to offer.
Shake, add egg whites
Top with Havana & Hide bitters
Schammel said using egg whites is his second favorite cocktail ingredient, behind ginger.
“[Egg whites] change the pallet feel,” he said. “To volumize the drink, it is a really cool way to do that without adding different flavors because egg white does not impart any if much flavor at all.” The egg whites, something I am not familiar with at all in cocktails, added so much more volume and depth to the drink’s texture. While they had no taste, the egg whites definitely complemented the gin and played well off the acidity of the lime juice. But, the Havana & Hide bitters really tied the drink together in a smoky bow. It was delicious and hearty. This drink was named after and is a homage to the first church in Greensboro. According to the historical marker right outside of Rue-Bar, this site was formerly the Methodist church led by Peter Doub that had 64 members. “Since we are here in the heart of historical downtown Greensboro, why not pay homage to it?”
“New York-Style Sour”
Cabernet Sauvignon floater
This cocktail was definitely something extraordinarily different and a delicious surprise. The New York-Style Sour combined two types of alcohol that I sometimes have trouble drinking alone: red wine and whiskey. The taste of the alcohol was rich and savory, while the lemon and vanilla-infused honey added a light, sweetness to it. The presentation of the cocktail is as attractive as its taste. The drink is beautifully layered with the dark whiskey on the bottom and a cabernet sauvignon floater on top. It is garnished with perfect circles of lemon slices and a light foam on top. This would be my go-to cocktail when visiting Rue-Bar.
“Rinse” glass with Pernod first
(Rinse means to pour some of the licorice liqueur into the glass and let it sit while mixing the drink so that the flavors are absorbed into the glass)
Cut lemon twist (save for later)
Add in bitters first
Brandy & Benedictine (B&B)
Stir (to dilute the mixture of alcohol)
Now, to play with fire… ( don’t try this at home kids-or, intoxicated adults!)
Take the aforementioned lemon twist and hold it above the glass and with a lit match (or lighter). Heat up the edge of the twist “until the flame starts to dance,” Schammel said. Lighting the rind brings out the oil in the lemon rind. Squeeze the ends of the rind together (while lit) in half. Wait for the flicker of the flame to die out and then rub the twist on all of the edges of the glass. Use the rind to garnish.
This drink is named after Bell and is a play off of a Vieux Carré, (or ‘old square’ in English), which is a Rye and Cognac cocktail originating from New Orleans in the 1930s. This is Bell’s favorite drink because he said “it is all booze.” The Trés Carré (or ‘very square’ in English) is far from what its name translates to in English. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I would describe this cocktail as Great Gatsbyesque– in the sense that it makes you want to keep the party going with every sip you take. Spoiler alert, it is very strong, so sip responsibly and slowly. The smoky flavor of the lemon twist and Pernod rinse definitely adds the “party” to this cocktail.
Rue-Bar is open Wednesdays through Saturdays at 5 p.m. Walk-ins are encouraged and canine friends, are welcomed. To reserve a private room call, 336-252-2254. Follow Rue-Bar on Instagram @ruebargso and on Facebook at Rue-Bar. Follow Bell and his sister restaurant, LaRue Elm, on Instagram and Twitter at @larue.gso, and on Facebook at LaRue Elm Restaurant.
Katie Murawski is the editor of YES! Weekly. She is from Mooresville, North Carolina and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in film studies from Appalachian State University in 2017.