Food Experience

Whiskey Business

Most people know Downcity’s New Harvest as a coffeehouse – but it’s also well stocked with the hard stuff

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During the day, New Harvest Coffee is a buzzing little cafe, and most patrons come here for coffee and cappuccino. Nestled into The Arcade, New Harvest attracts a diverse cast of downcity characters – students, office workers, telecommuters, most of them illuminated by the glow of their laptops and phones. I have been one of those people, sitting at a bistro table and tapping out an article, savoring every drop of my Honey Latte. For artfully roasted beans, you can’t do better.

But then the sun sets, and the evening crowd seeps in. This was the New Harvest I had long wanted to see. Behind the bar, a whole wall of liquor bottles beckons the thirsty guest. New Harvest already benefits from moody lighting and a bohemian atmosphere; come 5pm, sophisticated coffeephiles transform into sophisticated tipplers, and I wanted in.

As many New Englanders know, coffee and whiskey were made for each other, especially in the drizzly months. There are several coffee-based cocktails, and the standout is the Stay At Home Dad, partly for its smirk-inducing name, but mostly for its blissful mix of bourbon, espresso, and cinnamon. This creation leads to a serious dilemma: Do you really want to consume such heart-racing stuff so late in the day? If you’re like me, just the scent of espresso will make you run laps. Then the bartender informed me, to my surprise and delight, that all the espresso-based cocktails at New Harvest can be made decaffeinated. Problem solved.

The full whiskey menu reads like the index to a very long book, with columns of ryes, wheats, and single malts. Toward the end, you’ll also find a dizzying array of gins, rums, and agaves. Unless you have unlimited funds and the metabolism of a hummingbird, you will barely scratch the surface of this menu by 10pm. The solution, of course, is to try a flight, which you can order in curated trios or customize yourself.

I’m locally loyal, and I shared the Sons of Liberty flight with a good friend. We sipped and traded notes, working our way through the Battle Cry, the Uprising, and the Uprising Petro Ximenez Cask. The last is sweetened with sherry, and it’s now on my Christmas list.

New Harvest’s downtown location has a cheeky motto: “Coffee by day, whiskey by night.” Notice it says “whiskey,” not “bar.” Rightly, the coffeehouse doesn’t just revert into a saloon after business hours; it remains a coffeehouse, where you can also sample some spirits. There are only a few such places in Providence, and an idea this good deserves to spread. Until then, I suggest you spend some time after work at The Arcade.

New Harvest Coffee & Spirits
The Arcade, 130 Westminster Street • 272-4604