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December 16th, 2009 MICHAEL MANNHEIMER | Bar Reviews
 

The Big Chill

     
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IMAGE: vivianjohnson.com

It’s got to be hard to open a bar in the winter. But despite all the things going against it—freezing temperatures, a shortage of spirits and a stale smoke smell that reminded my roommate of her grandmother’s apartment in New Jersey—Swift Lounge (1932 NE Broadway), which occupies the space last home to the old Colosso, aces the one thing you have to do right in December: make a damn fine hot toddy. Warm to the touch, with just a hint of clove spice and cinnamon, Swift’s Back Porch Toddy ($7) is made with sweet tea-infused vodka instead of whiskey, and it does remarkable things for any lingering cold. The only aspect that remains from the Colosso days is the low-lit setting, which is perfect for quiet conversations but makes reading the menu tough. We decided to stick with the basics—an herb-sauteed calamari ($8) that was surprisingly light and fresh—and focus on the paintings of jazz legends like Fats Waller and Miles Davis that adorn the front walls. The one thing we could read? An artist statement comparing Davis to an alien and dubbing him the “Mark Twain of Jazz.” I doubt Twain would like this comparison, but he sure as hell would love to drink here.

 
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