First Look: New Cocktail Bar Canard Opens Tomorrow

Treadsack bar director Leslie Ross, behind the bar of soon-to-open Canard with a giant bottle of Chartreuse.
Treadsack bar director Leslie Ross, behind the bar of soon-to-open Canard with a giant bottle of Chartreuse.
Photo by Chuck Cook Photography

Canard, a new cocktail bar at 4721 North Main from the Treadsack group and bar director Leslie Ross, is officially opening for business on Friday, March 18 at 5 p.m. The fledgling establishment hosted a test drive service last night with a small group of employees, relatives and close industry friends in attendance.

Treadsack co-owner Chris Cusack looked happy, relieved and perhaps a little tired as he greeted guests during the evening. For now at least, this is the group’s final grand opening. Since the end of September, the ambitious company that first started its journey with Down House has opened three more full-fledged restaurants, all with cocktail programs overseen by Ross: Hunky Dory, Foreign Correspondents (next door to Canard) and Bernadine’s. It has been a monumental task.

Treadsack bar director Leslie Ross was quietly ebullient, even a little tearful at one point when her mom visited the new bar intended to showcase the full range of her daughter’s considerable talent — including her background as a chemist.

Ross creates the Belladonna cocktail for her mom, garnished with a solitary nasturtium leaf and blossoms held by a curved orange peel. A slice of blood orange minds the bottom of a glass of absinthe, French vermouth, apple peel and tincture of violet and ambrette seed oil.
Ross creates the Belladonna cocktail for her mom, garnished with a solitary nasturtium leaf and blossoms held by a curved orange peel. A slice of blood orange minds the bottom of a glass of absinthe, French vermouth, apple peel and tincture of violet and ambrette seed oil.
Photo by Chuck Cook Photography

Ross said the general contractor has worked impossibly long hours over the past few days to get Canard open in time. The results are lovely, and if there’s anything left to be done, it doesn’t look that way to patrons.

Canard looks like a French lounge, with deep, sumptuous sofas upholstered in royal purple that promise to hold many groups of friends in the future. The back bar is painted in teal, and the barstools along the counter, with nominal curved gold metal backs that reach to the floor, could be art deco by way of Paris.

It will be a good home base for highlighting Ross’s extraordinary penchant for nuanced, complex libations. Canard’s program employs essential oils that at first blush seem like they would never work in a cocktail: sandalwood, rosewood and cedar. Yet these elements do work with traditional spirits and elements beautifully when used in just the right amounts — and Ross excels at balance.

A carefully restored optic dispenser mounted to purple heart wood behind the bar of Canard.
A carefully restored optic dispenser mounted to purple heart wood behind the bar of Canard.
Photo by Chuck Cook Photgraphy

If those nuances sound more like the tenets of a perfumer's trade than a bartender’s, that’s no coincidence. Ross said that Canard’s original cocktails are more like perfume, while those in the “Optics” section of the menu are bolder, like cologne. “Optics” refers to the four glass dispensers mounted to the display of purple heart wood above the back bar counter. These are carefully restored antiques with porcelain inner workings that hold bold concoctions, such as The Inquisitor, with Makers 46 bourbon, Spanish brandy, Spanish vermouth, saffron, frankincense and myrrh.

The Canard Originals part of the menu is quite seasonal. Currently, it speaks of spring gardens. The Rosacrucian, a mix of cognac, sparkling rosé, sandalwood tincture and labdanum, is served up and garnished with a single rose leaf that holds a droplet of beeswax. The essence of a rose is distinct, but it's not overpowering, just a pretty floral touch. 

Leslie Ross constructs the Rosacrucian cocktail, with cognac, sparkling rosé, sandalwood and labdanum accented with a fresh rose petal that holds a droplet of beeswax
Leslie Ross constructs the Rosacrucian cocktail, with cognac, sparkling rosé, sandalwood and labdanum accented with a fresh rose petal that holds a droplet of beeswax
Photo by Chuck Cook Photography

For those who adore the classics, there is a well-executed Old Fashioned, a Gin and Tonic laced with Crème Yvette (a liqueur laced with violet petals, berries and spices), and the Canard Mule with gin, Suze (a slightly bitter liqueur with gentian root), absinthe, mint, ginger beer and grapefruit peel. 

Canard will soon be joined by Morningstar Coffee & Donuts (from David Buehrer and Ecky Prabanto of Greenway Coffee) in the strip center that already houses Foreign Correspondents. Together, the trio of hot spots will constitute a much-needed adventurous culinary destination on that section of North Main. Canard has seating for a maximum of about 60, and there is no reason not to believe it will fill up in the evenings as people discover its many charms. 


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