“NEAT,” when it comes to ordering a drink, means poured straight from the bottle and served at room temperature–no ice, no mixer–so you enjoy the spirit in its purest form, and are able to appreciate its complexity. This is the philosophy behind NEAT, the offshoot of Darien’s Espresso NEAT, now open in Westport.
“NEAT is all about the quality, process, and appreciation for doing it right,” says Kevin Lalumiere, Managing Director of Experience hospitality. “It’s important where the ingredients are being sourced, how they’re measured.” And you will find this in everything they serve, whether it’s a cup of coffee, homemade pastry, or craft cocktail.
But, wait–a cocktail? Yes! Whereas Darien’s shop is all about the cup of joe, this location features a twist–the serious coffee bar by day becomes a cocktail bar by night. From 5p.m. to midnight a full bar is accompanied by light bites (bar snacks, sandwiches, spreads with crostini). “Our cocktail recipes are a nod to the classics, with our own thumbprint,” Kevin explains. The “Improved Whiskey Cocktail,” for example, combines Bulleit rye, Luxardo maraschino, simple syrup, and Angostura bitters. But, if you are a fan of the “neat” preparation, you’ll have plenty to choose from with an average of four quality offerings per spirit, from bourbon, rye, and single malt, to name a few.
As we all know, “neat” is also a synonym for “cool,” and this place is brewing with cool. Formerly a firehouse, the brick walls and long, wood high top tables combine coziness with chic in this historic National Hall locale. So don’t expect anything to be regular here, especially the java. Ever heard of “draft coffee?” It may pour and look like a Guiness Sout, but it’s actually a cold cup of regular coffee! “It’s like a morning beer,” jokes Rachel Haughey, NEAT’s coffee aficionado. “It’s cold, with a head on it. It has a punch.” And keeping with the cocktail vibe, there’s “coffee tonic”–tonic over ice topped with a double shot of espresso. If you’re a “two-cupper” in the morning the Hit & Run is for you—an espresso to stay, a brewed cup of coffee to go.
To add to its appeal, NEAT is also a full-on café—you can come any time of day to get a beverage and a bite to eat. Enjoy lunch offerings of baguette sandwiches and fresh salads, accompanied by a beer or glass of wine. And keep NEAT in mind the next time you have to wait for a table at Bar Taco. The parking out front may be limited but the garage across the street is free.
6 Wilton Road, Westport; 203-557-8955
Open 7a.m. to midnight