For the past eight years, Rock Town Distillery has quietly been a gem in Little Rock’s food and beverage scene. Along with a strong craft brewery roster, having a high quality craft distillery has put Little Rock on the map for a growing population of food tourism.
It is no surprise then that Rock Town is always toward the top (currently #2) of the things to do category for Little Rock on Trip Advisor. The distillery tours and tastings have attracted tourist to the area from all over. I’ve ran into several folks around town say that they were visiting in Memphis, Nashville, Dallas, or NWA and made a special detour to Little Rock when they heard about the distillery.
What Rock Town has missed is a draw for locals to frequently stop into the tasting room. Over the last eight years, I’ve attended a couple of tours, stopped in a few times to sip a new release, and picked up booze on a Sunday a handful of times, but there was nothing to make it part of my normal rotation.
The move to SoMa late last month changes all that. The biggest part of the move was hiring veteran bar man Rob Armstrong who has worked for the past several weeks to create a strong lineup of signature cocktails that are released this week. It instantly puts Rock Town high on the list of best bars in the city, and when combined with their later opening hours soon to come should make this a regular watering hole destination for the surrounding neighborhood and rest of the city.
The full menu starts with a lineup of spirit forward traditional craft cocktails. You will find your old favorites like a sazerac, negroni, manhattan, old fashioned, martini, tom collins, last word, and more. It is the signature cocktail list though that Armstrong’s strength as a bartender starts to shine.
“This menu was challenging, and I took extra care in creating a strong lineup,” Armstrong says. “This really became a chance to dig deep into a single distillery’s portfolio and create drinks that perfectly compliment the spirit.”
The attention to detail paid off based on the tasting we had. There is a strong mix of cocktail styles across the board. One of the favorites is the bourbon based tiki cocktail “The Fat Bottom Girl”. It uses Rock Town Bourbon, lime, pecan orgeat and orange juice. It different than your average tiki drink thanks to the bourbon, but quickly a crowd favorite here.
Along with that, the more traditional SoMa Mai Tai uses rum, mandarin flavored vodka, lime, rosewater, and pecan orgeat. It is a light take on a traditional Mai Tai. Speaking of interesting takes on classics, The Darby is anything but your classic gin and tonic. It soaks in raspberries and cucumbers for a fruity and fresh take on the original.
The surprise hit of the lineup came with the Wiki Wiki Kiwi. This uses gin, wiki shrub, and limoncello for a very refreshing drink that is full of flavor, perfect for the summer.
Both the Brass Monkey and Walkie Talkie also make for great summer drinks. The Brass Monkey uses their barrel aged rum and vodka, then brings in grapefruit and lemon for a splash of flavor. The Walkie Talkie uses their grapefruit vodka along with raspberries for a light and cool cocktail. They also use their basil vodka for a bloody mary cocktail called the Proud Mary. The basil vodka works excellent in a bloody mary, so it is nice to see this hit the menu.
The cocktails so far seem like a hit. In the hour or so we spent sitting around the tasting room everyone, including those who just came off a tour, had a cocktail in hand. It will undoubtably make Rock Town a destination spot for locals and visitors alike and continue to grow the already strong SoMa area.