Bar Review: The Merchant

by Sam Garigliano

The Merchant

The Regret (left) and a Whiskey Sour

Located right off the Capitol Square and back-to-back with The Majestic, The Merchant is a marked destination for many young professionals and post-grads alike looking for a tasteful drinking atmosphere. Despite the permanent low lighting, Rococo style wallpaper, and relatively pricey drinks, The Merchant manages to stay far away from full-blown pretension.

The place has boasted live music every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night this month. When a DJ is booked, the dining room is transformed into a respectable dance space, complete with lights and grinding. If that’s not your thing, plenty of quieter solo and acoustic acts also come around. And for the true traditionalists, the TVs above the bar are sure to be playing any major sports game.

The Merchant starts a Late Night Menu at 10:30pm, slashing PBR and Schlitz Tall Boys to just $3, a price competitive with specials typically found in campus area bars. Besides the cheap Tall Boys, they have weak weekend night specials, unless you count the $3 tap beers on Thursday and the same on Sunday plus $2 cans.

The Merchant’s cocktails are a major selling point, crafted with significant attention to detail and taste. Many of the house drinks hover around $8 or $9 dollars, but if you like a good Whiskey Sour (Fighting Cock, sugar, fresh lime juice and egg white) then it is definitely worth it. The Batchwana Bay Shandy (Pilsner, fresh lemon, St. Germain, Bittermens Hopped Grapefruit and lemon-lime soda) is a delicious and refreshing summery drink, also good for any other time of the year. At first glance, the service appears like they might possibly take themselves a bit too seriously, but the opposite is clear as soon as you order. The staff is friendly, efficient, and knowledgable.

Specials:

Nightly from 10:30pm to 1:00am:

  • $7 cocktails
  • $2 PBR and Schlitz Tall Boys
  • $2 cans of Tecate

Monday – Friday Happy Hour:

  • $3 taps
  • $2 cans
  • $6 classic craft cocktails

Mondays from 5:00pm to close:

  • Punch Bowls, $5 a glass

Tuesdays:

  • Two entrees, a bottle of wine and dessert for $40

Wednesdays:

  • $10 off bottles of wine in house

Thursday:

  • $3 Taps

Sunday:

  • $3 taps, $2 cans

Drinks: 9 out of 10
Specials: 5 out of 10
Atmosphere: 7 out of 10
Location: 7 out of 10

Overall: 7

The Merchant is located at 121 South Pinckney Street just off the Capitol Square. Its hours are 11:00am to close Mondays through Fridays, 2:00pm to close Saturdays and 5:00pm to close Sundays. For additional information call (608) 259-9799 or visit merchantmadison.com. 

MODA Magazine and the WUD Publications Committee do not endorse underage or irresponsible drinking. This article is intended for informative culinary purposes, and these beverages should be consumed in moderation by those of the legal drinking age.

 

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