Uncorking Community: Alex Coleman's Tale of Spirits and Stories at NEAT Tasting Room & Bottleshop - 30A

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Uncorking Community: Alex Coleman’s Tale of Spirits and Stories at NEAT Tasting Room & Bottleshop

By: Carrie Honaker | Posted Feb 9, 2024

Alex Coleman, NEAT Bottleshop and Tasting Room’s General Manager, collects stories. He warmly welcomes each guest who approaches the door, remembering their names, their history, and what bottle they love.

“I love that I get to know the guests here. Right now we’re in the offseason and the last five Tuesdays we’ve had the same people join us for Wine & Song. I see them come through the door and it feels almost like family. We ask each other how the week’s been and we all know each other’s name,” Coleman said.

That intimacy with guests carries over into all aspects at NEAT.

The bottle shop is lined with selections from small spirits, wine, and beer producers, most of whom have been a part of one of Alys Beach’s events like 30A Wine Fest and Crafted. According to Austin Doiron, Beverage Manager for all Alys Beach concepts, if you see a bottle in the shop, likely the maker has visited and there is a personal connection to their story. 



That storytelling extends to everyday operations at this cozy gathering spot. When Doiron knows certain homeowners are looking for one specific bottle and he gets it in, he texts them to let them know he will hold it for them.

Bartenders Emily and Chris are longtime fixtures behind the stick and everyone knows if you want a tiki drink see Emily, for a robust espresso martini, Chris has the recipe. 

Check out NEAT’s Instagram feed for information about popups, musical acts, and even special bottle acquisitions. Doiron elaborated, “There’s a Pensacola tequila club I just learned about that drove over here three times based on Instagram. They look for special bottles where the state of Florida gets a dozen and one is on our shelf. They make the trip just to sample it.”

A casual glance across the shelves reveals it is not your average grocery store collection—the only recognizable label belongs to Tito’s, but it is cozied up next to Leyenda “Austin’s Cut” 100 Blanco, a spirit Doiron loves in his signature drink: a tequila negroni. “They are good with gin, but way better with tequila, and not to toot my own horn, but that bottle’s named after me,” he joked, adding, “It pairs well with the whipped feta that’s been on the menu since day one.” 



And let’s talk about that whipped feta…everybody at the table extolled its virtues, but it wasn’t until it hit my tastebuds that I knew they were right. A generous stripe of creamy, salty white Greek cheese creates the base for this dish. Then Valencia almonds spiced with rosemary and sea salt join the party with roasted tomatoes studding the mix. A generous portion of naan toast points offers the perfect vehicle to scoop up all that goodness. The salty and savory flavors pair with not only the Ayala Brut Majeur Champagne—a bottle Coleman shares has been produced by the same family since 1860—but also the A to Z cocktail featuring Leyenda “A to Z” Reposado (Coleman’s favorite), Nixta liqueur, luxardo, and bitters. 

Accompanying the eclectic pourings are a selection of customizable charcuterie boards, some fun dips, and two types of cookies.

Coleman, like the namesake restaurant and bottle shop, likes his drinks simple and clean, maybe with a serving of diamond-shaped ice. “I love a tequila old-fashioned or a martini (bone dry please), but honestly, if I’m getting a good tequila, pour it NEAT.” 

He shines on Tuesday nights. As the musician cues up, he threads through the room pouring the various bottles for the wine tasting, watching each table to gauge when somebody is ready to move on to the next sip. While at the table he shares about the 300-year legacy of the Pierre Sparr Cremant d’Alsace Rose Brut as the pink bubbles fill the glass, or how true pinotage can only come from South Africa, or how the bottle name Marine Layer refers to the deep fog that rolls over the Pacific Ocean, dropping the temperature 15-20 degrees to set up the perfect conditions for the pinot noir he’s pouring.

Like the ever-rotating wine menu, the cocktail selection changes with the seasons. If the chef brings in a new cheese, Doiron cues up new spirits, wines, and beers to feature. When holidays roll around, look for fun twists like Rosemary’s Baby mocktail, a Halloween favorite.

For now, check out Wine & Song every Tuesday. Happy hour happens 2-5 p.m. daily with $8 classics like manhattans and margaritas. And don’t miss the Pretzel Bites nestled in a bubbly river of zingy pimento cheese, perfect to share or pair, even with a Leyenda “A to Z” Reposado NEAT. And if you see Doiron, ask him to tell you the burger story, trust me.

To learn more, visit NEAT Tasting Room & Bottle Shop or follow their updates on Facebook and Instagram.

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Carrie Honaker is a Florida-based freelance writer who is not sure where she will land next, but it will involve messy eating, a spicy Tempranillo, and finding the local dive bar. Her work has been featured in Wine Enthusiast, Bon Appetit, and others. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @writeonhonaker.

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