Aug. 6, 2021
by Liesel Schmidt
ALYS BEACH – To say that artisanal beer, hand-crafted cocktails, and independent label wines have all been enjoying a surge in popularity over the past decade would be an understatement of the dedication shown to the burgeoning industries.
In fact, an entire culture has been created for each; and followers sip, swirl, shake, swizzle, and stir with practiced care, collecting favorites and seeking out the best of the best with the same sensibility that was once reserved for only the finest labels. Rather than being highbrow, however, the new culture seems ready to embrace boldness and welcome ingenuity. Naturally, they’re hardly willing to compromise in quality; but the overall goal isn’t so much to impress with pedigree as it is to pour on the flavor.
Showcasing the unique
It was in celebration of these tastemakers that NEAT was begun, opening in 2016 in Alys Beach to share a highly curated selection of beers, spirits, and wines. NEAT offers both a Bottle Shop stocked full of a wide variety of beverages and the necessary accoutrements, as well as an adjacent Tasting Room where guests can sit and enjoy the selection. In 2017, the Tasting Room was expanded to include a greater amount of seating as well as a menu of shareable plates, snacks, charcuterie and cheese boards.
“The core concept behind NEAT was to create an intimate experience for customers to enjoy thoughtfully curated cocktails and wine as well as a place to offer an eclectic variety of bottles, including the ones used to make NEAT’s signature monthly offerings,” said Alys Beach Director of Public Relations Diana Lane. “We pride ourselves on showcasing boutique and hard to find spirits and wine, and the selection changes often as new bottles and vintages come available.”
Under the direction of NEAT Manager Hunter Church and Alys Beach Beverage Manager Austin Doiron, the team at NEAT is well-versed and highly trained in offering guidance to clients in search of that perfect pour. And while they could easily rest on their laurels and keep to a standard list, NEAT is nothing if not dedicated to new and novel offerings.
“We’re known for changing the cocktail and wine list monthly,” Lane explains. “Each month, Hunter comes up with a theme and assigns each bartender a spirit and flavor profile based on that theme. Each bartender gets to showcase their creativity on every menu.”
A little nosh
Naturally, the talent at work in creating the drinks is a point of pride, as is the fact that they make all of their juices, syrups, and infusions in-house. As one would hope, that same level of care and attention is lavished on the menu of edible temptations in the Tasting Room. Created by Alys Beach Executive Chef Drew Dzejak, the cheese and charcuterie boards are considered the Tasting Room’s signature items, offering a selection of fine meats and cheeses as well as decadent sweets to satisfy the senses and accompany a well-chosen drink.
Unique flatbreads and different sharable dips are also popular for a nosh, their flavor profiles perfect for pairings. Trained at Johnson and Wales University with a skill honed under multiple chefs, it is clear that Chef Drew has a creative mind that enjoys the art of combining flavors that play on the palate.
At NEAT, the goal is to be far more than just another beverage store, it’s about providing a premium product and an exceptional experience while offering something truly unique. It’s about celebrating not only an occasion by lifting a glass but also celebrating the art behind what’s in that glass: the expertise, the care, and the passion that makes every last drop worth appreciating.
NEAT is located at 11 N. Castle Harbour Drive, Alys Beach. Reservations not accepted. Tasting Room open Tuesday to Saturday, 2 to 10 p.m. Bottle Shop open Tuesday to Saturday noon to 10 p.m. For more information, call 850-213-5711 or visit www.alysbeach.com/neat or www.facebook.com/neatbottleshop.