This New Lounge in Colonia, NJ
Offers World-Class Appeal
BY DAVID RAUDENBUSH
Golfstyles Associate Editor
COLONIA, NJ -- Golf writers are a pampered breed. The job is exactly what you would expect: playing world-class golf courses and enjoying the amenities of the finest country clubs. Sure, there are times when we have to hunker down at our desks to write, but as burdens go, writing isn’t exactly like pushing wheelbarrow loads of bricks up a steep hill.
With that in mind, I can honestly say I’ve never experienced luxury and libation quite like those offered at LeMalt.
Although its rampant lion crest recalls a Scottish coat of arms and grandest traditions of the game, LeMalt is not a golf course or a club. LeMalt is a world-class wine and brown spirits lounge in Colonia, New Jersey. If you and your playing partners are looking for a place to gather after a round— perhaps someplace quite away from the golf course to meet your wives— LeMalt might just be the place. If you have been talking business with clients on the golf course during the day, you could not pick a better place to close the deal than LeMalt.
A rarity outside New York City, LeMalt boasts a treasure trove of over 750 of the world’s best whiskeys, bourbons and other liquors tastefully displayed like brightly lit works of art around the interior of the lounge. Bottles of wine and vodka add color and flavor to the array of bottles, decanters and carafes.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that LeMalt is a bar in any traditional sense. There is no long counter with a polished rail. No tall stools. No pull handles for pouring a glass of beer. No tall stools arranged to face a screen so you can see the ball game. In fact, there isn’t even a television.
“LeMalt is a bar without a bar,” said Himanshu Sanhi, the business’s director of communications.
Occasional live jazz performances blend perfectly with LeMalt’s style that recalls the small Manhattan clubs where stars like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin launched their careers. An eclectic decor of soft of soft leather chairs, couches and low tables provide a mellow atmosphere for quiet conversations over drinks and appetizing fare from the kitchen. For more private affairs, you can reserve one of three small alcoves ideal for small groups of friends or associates. If instead you desire more intimacy, LeMalt also offers a section of small, cozy booths.
“Everyone who comes in here feels so warm,” said Saurabh Abrol, LeMalt’s CEO, president and founder. “They say, ‘We feel like we’re in New York City or Las Vegas.’”
Owning a bar or lounge had always been a dream of Abrol’s, whose family owns the Wine Chateau chain of wine and spirits stores and internet retail site. For him, LeMalt — and future locations like this — are the next logical step in expanding the family business.
However, Abrol didn’t want to just another corner tavern. He traveled extensively to find the models and inspiration for the unique blend of lounge, club and restaurant he eventually created.
LeMalt’s serving staff is well-trained and educated in the nuisances of malt beverages. They can guide customers to the right choice, whether that be a $10 glass of Ballentine’s Finest Scotch or a $800 bottle of 25-year-old Chivas Regal. For a really special occasion— maybe you just picked out a snazzy new Ferrari from the dealership down the street— you might splurge on a Glenmorangie Single Malt, 25 years old with $1,920 price tag per bottle.
If you want a cocktail, champion mixologist and general manager Richard Tandoc wheels a cart to your table. There, you can watch him as you might a street magician as he conjures up one of his signature cocktails such as his VIP cosmo— Belvedere vodka, Cointreau noir, cranberry juice and fresh line. Or, if you want refreshment with a kick to it, try a Royal Sangria, Johnnie Walker Platinum infused with red wine and fresh fruit.
For the daring individual with deep pockets, there is LeMalt’s Billionaire cocktail. Served in a plaid crystal Tiffany martini glass and garnished with edible flakes of 23 karat gold, the cocktail is a blend of Hennessy Paradis Cognac, Grand Marnier Cuvee 1880, Moet & Chandon Imperial and Moonshine. At $175, the billionaire cocktail makes a great treat for celebrating a club championship or a personal-best round.
LeMalt doesn’t merely cater to fans of brown liquors. They boast another 100 well-selected wines and a pleasing selection of brandies, cognacs, rum, vodka, gin, tequila and mezcal. While they don’t have taps, LeMalt does have a few choice of high-end craft beers and imports like the Ommegang Three Philosophers Quadrupel Ale and Chimay Grand Reserve Ale.
Providing the best service to the customer is central to LeMalt’s philosophy. If you enjoy a particular whiskey, you can sign up for the bottle reserve program which will guarantee your bottle will be there when you come in. Don’t worry about finishing the bottle. The reserve program holds it for you, which is great news if you have cracked open a $300 bottle of Midleton Very Rare Irish Whiskey.
Very little about LeMalt fits a category call conventional for a New Jersey establishment. That certainly includes the dining menu. Abrol thought the clatter of plates and silverware would disrupt the intimate atmosphere he desired for his lounge. So, he hired executive chef Duke Estime to design a menu consisting largely of tapas, small plates of appetizers or snacks.
Small plates, yes, but we aren’t talking about buffalo wings and onion rings. Selections run from relatively light choices such as gourmet cheese plate and truffled risotto to the Asian pork belly sliders and lamb empanadas. You won’t need to venture out to another restaurant after sampling an assortment from Estime’s kitchen.
Concerned about the fat content of a Kobe beef slider or pork sausage wrapped and baked in a puff pastry? Estime thinks you don’t need to worry. The alcohol in your whiskey will cut straight through it, he said.
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