Arts & Culture

New Harvest crafts expert sweets and sours

Westminster cafe-bar offers a fine selection of both spirits and classic coffee drinks

By
Senior Staff Writer
Friday, April 18, 2014

New Harvest Coffee and Spirits’ low-key location inside the Arcade off Westminster Street belies its sophisticated menu and expert service. Peaceful and sparsely populated at 6 p.m. on a recent Wednesday, New Harvest is a gem for the working student and a hidden treasure chest of superior liquor for the early-evening drinker. A few people take to the bar, while a couple of students sit with laptops and scattered books at one of many petite, round tables.

The wall beside the bar holds an extensive display of bourbons, ryes and scotches, rare and common alike. The selection runs the gamut from popular appellations like Booker’s and Bulleit bourbon and rye whiskeys to the more refined E.H. Taylor and Redemption. But for visitors looking “for relaxing times” a la Bill Murray in “Lost in Translation,” there’s also Suntory’s Hakushu single malt. The bar also carries top-shelf gin and tequila, a handful of beers, including Revival and Grey Sail as well as a small supply of wines by the glass.

Though the soy cappuccino is suitably frothy and imbued with intense espresso, the Redemption whiskey sour is the better choice. The bartender, who is also the manager, crafts his drinks meticulously. The whiskey is balanced and dominates the drink’s taste, not undercut by the lemon juice and syrup, and topped with house-made brandied cherries. Such grace and expertise behind the counter increase expectations for latte art, but the milk foam is rather simple. New Harvest teaches a “Milk Science and Latte Art” class every first Saturday of the month at its Pawtucket shop and training center — further raising hopes for milk hearts drawn into the foam. But the lack of milk design is a minor disappointment in the wake of bartending mastery.

The chocolate and hazelnut biscotti, chosen from a limited counter of pastries and pretzels from Seven Stars and Foremost bakeries, enhance both cappuccino and whiskey. The biscotti are perfectly dense, crunchy and crammed with whole hazelnuts and chocolate chunks.

New Harvest’s Arcade spot could hinder normal traffic, but a barista says locals find it easily. The spot treats the morning rush of coffee drinkers and tends to draw large crowds on Friday nights. New Harvest would do well as a standalone shop outside the Arcade, but for its first venture beyond Pawtucket — and its first bar — New Harvest is a success.

 

 

The Herald’s Picks for Drinks:

By Katherine Cusumano and Andrew Smyth, Arts & Culture Editors

The Dorrance

Housed in an elegant, majestic space that evokes images of early-20th-century hobnobbing and dining, the Dorrance offers up an extensive cocktail menu replete with aged liqueurs, intriguing sweet-and-savory combinations and citrus to spare. The atmosphere is convivial, but the restaurant tends to be frequented primarily by the nine-to-five crowd, so college students should come with a friend. The bar inside the restaurant can be the prelude to a delectable dinner in the New American style (the Dorrance offers locally sourced, clean plates a la New Rivers or Gracie’s) or the main event itself. The cocktail menu alone is certainly full enough to entertain for hours, not to mention the extensive list of international wines by the glass or bottle.

Tuesday-Thursday 5 p.m. to 12 a.m., Friday-Saturday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. | 60 Dorrance St.

 

White Electric Coffee

Serving Federal Hill for close to 15 years, this offbeat cafe is a warm and welcoming retreat from the twee postures of its boutique peers. A standard selection of light pastries, yogurt, bagels and oatmeal are available in the morning, and sandwiches and salads are served for lunch. But the main draw here is the coffee, which is strong, dark and readily available.

Monday-Friday 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Saturday 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. | 711 Westminster St.

 

What Cheer Tavern

Microbrew enthusiasts would do well to visit this downtown bar, where the beer menu is something of a New England tour de force. Rhode Island brews Narragansett, Proclamation and Grey Sail are available on tap. Berkshire from Massachusetts, Allagash from Maine, City Steam from Connecticut, Smuttynose from New Hampshire and Otter Creek from Vermont come by the bottle. The vibe is casual, but the drinks are quality and sustainable. The same goes for the bar food, which includes surprises like Thai chili chicken wings, vegetarian samosas and fresh crab rangoons all prepared with local ingredients.

Tuesday-Thursday 4 p.m. to 12 a.m., Friday 3 p.m. to 1 a.m., Saturday 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. | 228 New York Ave.

 

Small Point Cafe

For an artisanal caffeine experience, look no further than Westminster’s Small Point Cafe. What it lacks in a somewhat spare lunch and pastry selection it more than makes up for with a whole host of single-origin brews prepared however the connoisseur desires: cold-brew, drip, French press, vacuum-pressed — the list goes on. Knowledgeable baristas explain the brewing process with flair as they prepare drinks by hand. The espresso is locally roasted and the atmosphere is home-grown: It’s populated by students and old-timers alike, giving college-age customers a brief respite from the College Hill bubble.

Monday 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday-Friday 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Saturday-Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. | 230 Westminster St.

  • Thirsty

    The only bar within walking distance on this “Drinks” list is The Dorrance. Are you kidding me? There are plenty of great and less pricey options that most of Brown students (who don’t have cars) could go to.