By Kerri Adams, Editor-at-Large
Dining and drinking have been a part of America's social fabric since colonial times, and the setting of this activity was often Taverns.
These establishments were and always have been where all different walks of life to socialize over a drink and some bites.
But, taverns have come a long way from what they used to be.
"From colonial times to the mid-19th century you had taverns, which provided food and lodging. They had a tapster in a cage—as opposed to at a long bar—and it was open to all members of the community, including women and children. Then you start to see the dedicated saloon, which didn’t necessarily serve food, and mixed cordials and spirits at a long bar. Women were rarely allowed. Hotel bars existed on the high end, catering to business travelers. During Prohibition there were speakeasies, and after that people went back to the term tavern, though it was more like the old saloon," said Christine Sismondo, author of "America Walks into a Bar," to "Smithsonian."
The concept of a tavern is still very much alive today. But now, taverns range from being small, dimly lit, dingy bars to high-end restaurants that offer an impressive bar menu.
One of the most popular restaurants in Miami (that is a Foodable top 25 veteran) is Cypress Tavern, a restaurant that channels the esthetics of a refined tavern, while serving top notch food and an array of hand-crafted cocktails.
By James Beard Award-winning chef, Michael Schwartz, the concept is approachable and has been "stripped of formality," yet serves classic brasserie fare.
The menu has entrees like the Cypress Burger with jasper hill landaff, onion marmalade, and thrice cooked fries and for the even more refined palate, there's the Duck Donfit with parsnip, pear mostarda, charred raddichio, and walnuts and the Wood Grilled Quail with calabaza agnolotti, grilled mushrooms, and nasturtium pesto.
Today's modern tavern would not be complete without a killer cocktail menu. Cypress Tavern, formerly The Cypress Room, has a bar program with creatively named cocktails, with a taste to match.
The menu offers the Dirty Pickle with Death's Door Gin or Absolut Elyx Vodka, cornichon brine, and smoked Maldon and the Autmoxicillin with Famous Grouse Blended Scotch, Laphroaig 10, pear-maple syrup, and lemon, to name a few of the beverages.
We decided to sit down with Schwartz to see how he has elevated the tavern concept and why Miami diners flock to eat and drink at Cypress Tavern.
What makes Cypress Tavern different from Michael Schwartz' other concepts?
Schwartz: It's intimate and a throwback to a welcoming dining experience, where attention to detail and hospitality is the warm impression. We have a wood grill and rotisserie, so this special cooking equipment gives our food a rustic, homey feel. From this foundation– we layer an amazing bar focused on the classics, and a menu that celebrates the seasons by highlighting local fish and fresh ingredients.
Why did you decide to change the name from The Cypress Room to Cypress Tavern?
Schwartz: We signaled a shift to something more approachable and familiar.
Why have taverns remained popular today?
Schwartz: They're timeless in their function. They are a public house where everyone is welcome and can feel at home.
How has Cypress elevated the tavern concept?
Schwartz: Paying attention to the food and the complete experience.
What are the most popular menu items and cocktails and why?
Schwartz: The burger.
It's the perfect simple combination of outstanding product cooked perfectly. Each component comes together seamlessly from the ground chuck beef (wth 75%/25% lean/fat ratio) with dry aged trimmings and house-made bun, to onion marmalade inside with butter lettuce and sliced heirloom tomatoes to the side and with a skewer of cornichon and baby heirloom tomato. The kicker is the Jasper Hill Landaff, a raw cow’s milk cheese made in New Hampshire and finished in Vermont and those thrice cooked fries -- Idaho potatoes are skinned, boiled, poached in oil and then fried. This is the burger to indulge!
For the cocktail for sure the Dirty Pickle. The ultimate martini -- choice or vodka or gin, cornichon pickle juice and malton salt. Perfection.