When I called up Ian Cargill to hear more about his plans as bar manager for Roux, I was expecting the talk to turn immediately to cocktails. After all, the guy was lead bartender at Tavern Law, and now splits his time between Vito's and Vessel.
But Cargill launched immediately into the beer. He's planning 12 taps of all-American brews, which he thinks are the ideal complement to food truck virtuoso Matthew Lewis's hefty, yet artful, fare. Lewis, a New Orleans native, used some of the Southern charm that packs in the ladies at his truck to gain access to the entire line of Abita beers. This means Roux will pour some creations from the Louisiana brewery that aren't available anywhere else in the state.
Cargill's also planning to go "a little heavier on lagers," which he says are coming back in a big way. "I really just want to serve somebody a really good sandwich and a good beer to wash it down."
Roux will also have a nitro beer tap (nitrogen causes beer to pour less carbonated, with a denser, creamier consistency). Left Hand Brewing's Milk Stout on nitro, says Cargill, tastes like "an adult chocolate milk, and belongs nex to a beignet. Old Rasputin on nitro probably needs to be next to a beignet, too."
Not to worry, there will definitely be cocktails. Cargill just wants to keep things focused. His list will include "New Orleans-style classics" like a Pimm's Cup, Sazerac, and Mint Julep. He plans to branch out from there, but he wants to avoid getting too crazy or obscure. "Every bartender I know got into this to learn how to make a good Manhattan and a good Old Fashioned," he says. "But it bred into something geekier and crazier."
Cargill's into the subtle details, like how an Old Fashioned made with cane sugar is just a little bit better than a typical version. He also allows that he's never worked in Fremont before, and when Roux opens its doors in the former Buckaroo Tavern space in October, he'll most likely tweak the bar program to be in tune with what the neighborhood wants.
Cargill met Lewis when he worked at Tavern Law. He was part of "team sandwich," a group of bar staff who would hit up a different food truck every Wednesday. But eventually "a different food truck" just became "Matt's sandwiches."Lewis, by the way, is working with Herkimer to devise a chicory coffee for his restaurant.
Former Local 360 chef Mikey Robertshaw will be in the kitchen. Like Cargill, he was recruited very early on in the project. Cargill even got a say in the bar's layout, suggesting where the taps and drains should be located, the counter height, and other details unnoticed by customers but majorly important to those tending bar (hopefully he geeked out with Vessel owner Jim Romdall on this particular topic).