By SUSAN ERICSON
Picnic tables, high tops, bar stools: on warm, clear summer evenings, the seats fill up fast at Red Rock Tap + Grill in Red Bank, offering bird’s eye views of Marine Park from multiple tiers. PieHole finds a subdued after-work crowd at happy hour, which runs from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m.
“Happy hour is like this when it’s nice out,” bartender Jennifer Gambino tells us as she muddles lime for a Moscow Mule, the hour’s most popular cocktail, served in a proper copper mug.
Seating is arrayed across multiple tiers. Bartender Jennifer Gambino serves a Moscow Mule, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
Stationed at the busy main level bar — there’s also an indoor bar downstairs and a smaller rooftop bar — Gambino tells us that the vibe changes to party music and a younger crowd as the night goes on.
Glasses of bar-made sangria ($10) are next on Gambino’s list. She fills a shaker with orange vodka, red wine, triple sec, brandy and sliced fruit, gives it all an energetic shake, and pours the brew into a glass, topping it off with a splash of soda.
Down a flight is a larger in area level where folks are placing orders for happy hour weekly food specials. The evening we were there it was Prince Edward Island mussels in Dark City beer and Old Bay seasoning, a jambalaya pretzel, and a cheesesteak brisket egg roll at $7 at plate. The menu changes weekly at the chef’s discretion.
Ground level at Red Rock— formerly Brannigan’s — is dotted with bright yellow umbrellas topping rustic picnic tables and mixed groups of 9-to-5 office workers, folks still in scrubs stopping in from Riverview Medical Center, and a more upscale-dressed, name-tag-wearing meet-and greet-assemblage. The dress code here is clearly an anything-goes affair.
Red Rock Tap + Grill is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. The kitchen stays open until 11 p.m. every night. Live music and a DJ are on the scene Thursday night through Saturday night creating a loud club or party-style scene.