Many years ago I received a sword for Christmas. I didn’t ask for a sword, but that didn’t stop ol’ St. Nick from tactfully wrapping a weapon in old newspaper and giving it to an irresponsible boy filled with holiday cheer. It could have been worse, it could have been socks, or a sweater, or a gift card to the Cheesecake Factory. Then again, it was a fucking sword. Owning a sword makes you a sword guy, which is marginally better than rat-tail guy, and marginally worse than guy who owns reptiles. Where my parents failed at making me cool, they succeeded in weaponizing my virginity.
Pictured: Sword Guy
When I learned that a distillery was opening in the fall of 2017, I instantly felt the pangs of disappointment of that Christmas. Of all the things we’ve asked for we not only got NONE of them, but….SURPRISE – here’s a sword. Corgi makes me feel like a sword guy. I’m disappointed, but also slightly amused. I don’t need to have more than one bottle of artisanal gin in the same way I don’t need more than one sword. One is more than enough.
Located in what appears to be the former set of a Saw murder-puzzle turned aromatherapy wholesaler, Corgi offers bottles of gin and vodka for purchase along with a list of cocktails for on-site consumption. Corgi boasts a 4.5 star rating on Yelp, 4.9 stars on Google Reviews, and a perfect 5 stars on Facebook- all scores better than the oft anointed ‘Best Bar in the World’ Dead Rabbit. Fuck me! How lucky I am to have this predictably deepthroated establishment in my hood???
They make gin and vodka but their specialty is gin. It’s odd to make a distinction between the two because they both taste like fucking varnish. The Earl Grey Gin is probably the best on offer, which isn’t saying much. It’s best consumed as a gin and tonic as they use the high-power fire brand of all tonics – Fever Tree. This is similar to getting a free Xbox as a prize for watching your parents fuck; it’s still gross….but I’m also kinda pumped.
Making it with Fever-Tree is literally the least they can do. It’s the best fucking tonic on the planet. Fever Tree is not a sponsor of this blog, but my new mission in life is to change that. I’ll turn ChicPea and vomit sponsored content and hollow advertorials in a heartbeat to have Fever-Tree be a sponsor of Nice Things. I’ll boof a quarter-brick on the security line at Changi Airport if they set it as a condition. I’ll start producing ISIS recruitment videos. I’ll even drink this terrible gin straight up. Anything, just say the word.
Anyway, all of their cocktails tend to run very sweet or very acidic and lack any of the balance or elegance that a place like Dullboy or Archer has. I don’t know if their version of a White Russian is any good because I’m neither the Big Lebowski, nor the type of psycho that keeps body parts in his freezer. These are the only two cohorts for White Russian drinkers. I go with the G&T as an anti-choice – by drinking THIS, I don’t have to drink THAT. A gin and tonic is inherently balanced and avoids any of these pitfalls.
The leitmotif of this blog, as you all are probably painfully aware of, is the ACTUAL value of things vs. the PERCIVED value of a thing. Given the ratings, the quality, and the price point, Corgi is over-valued. I don’t want to hold this entirely against Corgi since they are a distillery and not a New American speakeasy. But for $1 more I can go to Dullboy and get The Scout, hands down the best cocktail in Jersey City and one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had. Or I can go to Harry’s Daughter and get the same goddamn Gin and Tonic for $10. 😳
This is particularly a fucking problem for so many reasons. A typical cocktail bar will have their pricing informed by a metric called pour cost which factors everything from the cost of booze to the garnishes per ounce of cocktail. No surprise, the largest slice of overhead in a cocktail pie is the booze. Compounding this is the fact that bars have limited flexibility on how to bring down the cost of alcohol since a) its highly regulated and b) provided to them through a cartel of wholesalers and distributors that are designed to limit their market power. This is not a problem for Corgi since THEY MAKE THE FUCKING BOOZE. When they run out of said booze they don’t have to place an order through some dude named Ralph, they just go over to the shelf and get more booze. I’ve seen them do this – it’s incredibly efficient. So why am I paying $12 for a Gin and Tonic?
I would guess that baked into the price per ounce is the rent on the comically large space that Corgi occupies. It’s a warehouse similar to the vast white void that Neo finds himself in before the Matrix is loaded. Why do they need so much space? I feel like Julie Andrews is going to twirl into The Sound of Music when they light the kettle. Kane Brewery, a micro-ish brewery in down in Ocean, NJ has a similar sized warehouse and they’re pumping out much large quantities of liquids to a much larger demand base. My hope is that this space will be used to accommodate a large intramural basketball league, and perhaps a JV volleyball team with the leftover 8,000 square feet.
Another thought is that Corgi inflates the cost per unit to accommodate the myriad of causes they donate a portion of their profits to. If that’s the case, I’m conflicted. The benevolent dictator inside me loves the idea of forcing people to donate to noble causes against their will. Because we can’t trust the majority of people to act in the best interest of those who need the majority’s help, we need to make that help compulsory. We want to ensure that people have enough food to eat, or that animals are treated humanely, or that LGBTQ youth are supported in Hudson County, so organizations have been created to advance those causes and they rely on our support. But the fact that those organizations exist in the first place (and that a booze company needs to assist them) is indicative of our inability to address a problem before it becomes a problem, or to even simply show compassion without provocation. In this paradigm Corgi is an autocrat that I fully support.
At the end of the day, I just don’t feel like Corgi is for me. It feels like it’s the bar equivalent of a luxury building. The price of the cocktails is irrelevant because the target demographic is people who don’t delve into the price of things. I feel like I want this to be closer to a neighborhood bar, but this is clearly more of a destination or an experience. That doesn’t make it inherently bad, it just perpetuates the notion that this neighborhood is increasingly being rebuilt for the wealthy.
We’ve got 300+ units of lux coming to Monitor st. We’ve got a boujee distillery. We don’t have a grocery store. Great.
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