Billed as “a cocktail-focused, classic American eatery,” the Mercury at Ponce City Market is the newest and most ambitious venture from media consultant Brooks Cloud, barman Julian Goglia and chef Mike Blydenstein, the partners behind the Pinewood in Decatur and Proof Old Fashioned Cocktail Syrup.
Combining bits of whimsy with tried-and-true offerings, the food, drink and scene are inspired by the space-age 1960s, midcentury modern decor and the classic cocktail culture of the “Mad Men” era.
A silvery drawing of a Mercury space capsule stamped with “ATL” is the logo on the clear plastic to-go cups. Banquettes replicate the seat covers of an early ’60s model Mercury coupe. And the sprawling, four-sided, full-service cocktail bar is topped with smooth blue marble and surrounded by 35 blue bucket seats.
Atlanta’s Square Feet Studio designed the 4,400-square-foot space. It seats 180 and is located on the second floor of the PCM Central Food Hall, where it feels relatively quiet, secluded from the hustle and bustle below.
One recent evening, Cloud and Goglia conducted a short tour of the Mercury, beginning and ending at the bar.
“This is probably the biggest craft cocktail bar I’ve ever seen,” Cloud said. “Most of them are small and intimate. This one is big and social. The restaurant kind of grew from there. We went for timeless, classic American, down to the menu, with things like shrimp cocktail and prime rib.”
“The lunch menu is really fun and quirky,” Goglia said. “We have a prime rib sandwich that’s phenomenal. The Pinewood Burger is on the menu, which is something we all personally like. But there’s also a vegetarian portobello Monte Cristo, which is really good.”
At dinner, look for raw bar offerings, such as stone crab claws, oysters and lobster crudo, and house specialties, such Gulf grouper almandine and burrata ravioli. But the heart of the menu is certified prime beef, using the sous-vide method of vacuum-sealed cooking in a water bath.
“The thing that we do that separates us is utilizing the sous-vide process to ensure the texture and flavor of all of our steaks, not just our large format cuts,” explained chef de cuisine Brian Carson. “We’re able to deliver a medium-well filet of any size that is still juicy and tender at the temperature the guest wants. You can cut it with a fork.”
On the beverage menu are 30 wines, 12 beers on tap, and 15 different cocktails, including the Commodore, with rye, vermouth, amaro and Griotte cherry, and a take on the mai tai, with rum, lime, Curaçao, Orgeat and Petite Canne.
“We have a lot of whiskey drinks,” Goglia said. “That’s obviously our brand from Pinewood and our cocktail syrup and we wanted to kind of expand on that. We’re also doing cocktails for four tableside. We wanted to pair everything wine-wise and cocktail-wise with the time period and the cuisine we’re doing, which is a lot of steaks, chops and seafood.”
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