Rockville holds many charms for diners, particularly those with a taste for Chinese cooking, but craft cocktail establishments are not among them. Quench plans to change all that.
The forthcoming bar and restaurant, in the former Beale Street Grill space at 9712 Traville Gateway Drive, is aiming high with its 60-seat operation (plus 25 more on the patio). Beverage director Stephen Oshana, most recently with Elisir, says the operation is taking its cues from such mixology temples as the Zig Zag Cafe in Seattle, Holeman and Finch in Atlanta and the Clover Club in New York, all of which also take considerable pride in their culinary offerings.
Quench is the brainchild of Michael Holstein, a lawyer who’s branching into the hospitality industry for the first time. “He wanted to create an urban nightlife experience in the suburbs,” says Oshana of his new boss. “The first thought was Bethesda [but] we didn’t find a location we wanted.”
What’s more, Oshana notes, the Traville Gateway Drive location straddles a Rockville/North Potomac area where the incomes are high — and the places serving truly craft cocktails are few.
To serve this underserved market, so to speak, Holstein has assembled a veteran team that boasts not only Oshana (whose resume includes a stint at the Jefferson Hotel) but also chef Rich Gunter (Restaurant Eve, Charlie Palmer Steak, Chef Geoff’s Tysons) sous-chef Evan Griffin (Firefly), head bartender Matt Allred (Bourbon Steak, the Bombay Club) and general manager Kimberly Squires (Morton’s in Bethesda).
The cocktail menu, naturally enough, will be the featured attraction at Quench. It will run some 40 drinks deep, broken into sections such as classics (Pimm’s Cup, Americano and the like), coffee-based cocktails (like the Turkey Drip: Wild Turkey 101, honey syrup and coffee) and seasonal sips (such as the Midnight Train: gin, creme de violette, orgeat, blackberries, pomegranate juice, lime). There will, of course, be a custom-made cocktail list as well, featuring such originals as the Traville Old Fashioned (muddled orange and strawberry, simple syrup, bourbon, rhubarb bitters) and the Honey Badger (pepper-infused tequila, lime juice, honey, ginger beer, dash of beet juice).
The food menu will be heavy on “nibbles” and “snacks” such as Gunter’s takes on hush puppies, brittle (with pine nuts and bacon!), cracklings, house-made pickles and charcuterie. His more substantial plates will include roasted shrimp ratatouille, gnocchi and a line of sandwiches, like a house-made half-smoke on a brioche roll with bourbon mustard and onion jam.
If the concept strikes a chord with Rockville residents — and those willing venture out to the ’burbs for a taste — you could find more Quench outlets in the future. “We have a very aggressive expansion plan in mind,” says Oshana. The owner has even purchased a URL that hints at things to come: quenchnation.com.
But one step at a time: The first Quench plans to debut in late April.