The bar offers a modern and inviting aesthetic, with a Columbus-centric mural spanning an entire wall and coordinating pops of bright red throughout the 2,500 square foot space.
Cray’s focus is house-infused liquor, the inspiration for which owner Crystal Park found at a bar in, of all places, Cambodia. There are 20 infused flavors available, with some of the more creative concoctions including Slim Jim Bourbon, Worthers Original Vodka, Garlic Vodka, Hibiscus Gin, Lemonheads Vodka and Pepperoncini Vodka.
Park was surprised to discover that some of the simpler infusions are the most challenging to craft.
“If you don’t know the exact timing with fresh fruit, it can start to go bad in liquor,” said Park. “You have to know with fresh ingredients when to strain it.”
The infusions are featured in over a dozen of Cray’s specialty cocktails, many of which are twists on classics like Cray’s Moscow Mule, which uses a smoked ginger-infused bourbon, and their Aviation, which features the hibiscus-infused gin.
Cray will offer eight beers on draft, with an emphasis on local beer from breweries like Columbus Brewing, Seventh Son and North High. There are also 10 wines available by the glass or bottle.
Cray’s food menu features a sizable selection of gourmet sliders, with comfort-foody creations like chicken waffle, grilled cheese and meatball, as well as some unexpected options like garlic infused duck and quinoa with sun-dried tomato.
The sliders carry through to Cray’s brunch menu, which features bacon, sausage and egg sliders, in addition to other small plates. Brunch will be offered Saturdays and Sundays from 11am-3pm.
Park initially wanted to open a bar on High Street, but was unable to find a building willing to take a chance on a first-time bar owner. Fortunately, the Wonder Bread building where she landed comes with an added convenience for customers that’s impossible to get in the Short North: dedicated parking.
“I always wanted a parking lot, and I thought it was too good to be true to be in this location with a parking lot,” said Park.
Cray Eatery & Drinkery is located at 697 N Fourth Street. A soft opening is planned for Tuesday, August 5, with the grand opening slated for Friday, August 8.