Affectionately dubbed “The Fred,” it’s one of the most exciting new beer bar concepts in Atlanta. It’s a sort of secret, rather exclusive place. Maybe most surprising, it’s hidden away in an underground room at the recently opened Taco Mac at The Prado in Sandy Springs.
The Prado location is pretty impressive itself. The sprawling, contemporary sports bar restaurant boasts some 11,000 sq. ft. inside, with 274 seats (including 50 for private dining), and 49 HD TVs. There’s a 2,200 sq. ft. covered patio, with another 140 seats and 29 more HD TVs. The beer list includes 200 beers in the bottle, 140 on draft, plus a beer engine for pouring cask ales.
But for beer enthusiasts, as well as aficionados of cozy, secluded drinking establishments, The Fred is what sets this Taco Mac apart from any of the other Atlanta-based chain’s outposts.
First of all, the entrance isn’t marked, and can only be approached from a sidewalk below the patio. Pressing a button alerts a door person, who may or may not grant admission. Inside, the square, dimly lit space couldn’t be further from the buzzing scene upstairs. Stone walls, with narrow glass block windows, a striking vaulted ceiling formed from long, thin strips of walnut, and a curving polished walnut bar create an atmosphere akin to a being in a catacomb or a wine cave.
“I think it’s very reminiscent of a speakeasy,” said Taco VP of Marketing Bruce Skala, during a recent preview. “I think it will evolve some sort of cult persona.”
The bar is named after Taco Mac’s beverage director, Fred Crudder, who has done it proud by stocking a boutique selection of beer, wine and spirits.
“I am flattered that my name was chosen as the reference for this cool spot, naturally,” Crudder wrote on his blog (fredsbeerpage.blogspot.com) by way of introduction.
Among the 20 draft beers recently available: St. Bernardus Christmas, Ommegang Adoration, Victory Old Horizontal, Stone Vertical Epic, and Weihenstephaner Vitus. In the bottle: Dogfish Head Palo Santo, Duchesse De Bourgogne, Hitachino XH aged in Shocyu sake barrels, and Mikkeller Warrior IPA, plus “Fred’s Private Stash” of rare stuff. Cocktails include several crossovers from American craft breweries, such as Spruce Cuke, made with Anchor Junipero gin, and Rogue Rye Sazarac, made with Rogue Dead Guy rye whiskey.
The food menu is limited to snacks, but the hardy offerings from executive chef Matt Deckard include five cheese blue crab dip, warm ciabatta with Genoa salami and Swiss cheese, and a bratwurst and caramelized onion egg roll with spicy mustard.
The Fred is only open Wednesday-Sunday nights. And entrance is reserved for members of Taco Mac’s newly updated Brewniversity (formerly the Passport Club), an educational beer drinkers program that awards a credit for each different brew that’s purchased: www.tacomac.com/brewniversity.html). Currently 15 credits are all that’s needed to get in the door. In three months, that will go up to 50 credits.
Taco Mac at The Prado, 5600 Roswell Road , Suite 3, Sandy Springs, 404-941-1503. www.tacomac.com