In their new Reynoldstown cocktail bar and restaurant Whoopsie’s at One Moreland, barman Tim Faulkner and chef Hudson Rouse are leaning into the idea that nothing is infallible, and embracing the concept that through imperfection magic is frequently created.
At 40 seats, Whoopsie’s is intimate and unfussy. Thrifted glassware hangs above the bar. Hand-lacquered table tops contain pressed flowers, and booth seating comes from an old Pizza Hut. Family mementos and secondhand finds adorn the walls. The tiny kitchen beyond the bar barely accommodates two people.
Some of the crystal goblets and coup glasses are from Rouse’s father and grandmother. His grandmother also painted two landscapes in the 1960s that now have pride of place at Whoopsie’s. Inspired by his own grandmother and her love for terrariums, Faulkner planted two new terrariums for the bar. The pair drove down to St. Petersburg, Florida, to pick up the booths they purchased at $25 a pop — altogether a grand total of just over $1,000.
With lights turned down real low in the evenings, your eyes need time to adjust. But once visual acclimation is achieved, Whoopsie’s comes into sharp focus.
“It’s not meant to be pretentious. We want your shoulders to relax when you walk in the door,” Faulkner says. “There’s been such an emphasis on perfection and reproducibility in restaurants lately, almost like a factory line. We want to be more playful and laid back. When mistakes happen, we fix them and move on.”
Faulkner and Rouse first met years ago while working at Octopus Bar in East Atlanta Village. Since then, Faulkner has gone on to work behind the bars at some of the city’s best cocktail spots, occasionally moonlighting in the evenings at Octopus Bar, while Rouse opened Southern restaurant Rising Son in Avondale Estates. But the friends continued to find ways to collaborate, including launching cocktail pop-up Up or Down at Rising Son. It was the prelude to Whoopsie’s.
Three classic cocktails are always on the menu at Whoopsie’s: the Corn n’ Oil; the Tuxedo or 20th Century; and an amaretto sour or El Presidente. For the latter, Faulkner swaps out orange curaçao for blue curaçao, giving the cocktail an ultraviolet hue that pops against the dark backdrop of the bar.
“We’ve got a full bar to make whatever you want, but this keeps it easy for people,” says Faulkner. “I love amaretto and have been in an amaretto phase for a good while now. I like this sour with Campari because it gives the drink more depth and it’s nice to have a low-ABV cocktail.”
Faulkner keeps the wine list tight, too, opting for a mix of red, white, and sparkling wines that are mostly low-intervention or natural. These are wines he and Rouse like to drink and haven’t spent hours overanalyzing or writing up esoteric tasting notes for on the menu.
Rouse grows most of the vegetables for the dishes at Whoospie’s, and meat comes from farms no more than 90 miles away. The wine list ties in with the philosophy of keeping it simple and fresh, with by the glass and bottle choices light, crisp, and refreshing.
It’s easy to find yourself eating through the menu at Whoopsie’s. While dishes may look deceptively simple on the menu, plate after plate hitting the table showcase Rouse’s skill with flavors and ingredients. Faulkner calls Rouse “one of the smartest chefs” he knows, pointing to his attention to detail and ability to churn out creative dishes each night from the 20-square-foot kitchen at Whoopsie’s.
For those who’ve eaten at Rising Son, it should come as no surprise the food here punches far above its weight for a cocktail bar. There’s a deliciously tender roast beef sandwich topped with house horseradish sauce served on brioche onion bun, a satsuma salad dressed with champagne vinaigrette, and daily dinner specials like porchetta on Thursday, prime rib on Saturday, and poached sea bass on Sunday evenings. Served in a hard plastic, partitioned cafeteria tray, the Southern snack tray contains an assortment of delights like deviled eggs, house-made chow chow, olives, and pickled vegetables, and dollops of pimento cheese with toasted sourdough points.
The daily dessert might feature mint ice cream with crushed Oreo’s, fashioned after the classic grasshopper cocktail, or the Tarzan’s Delight, based on Rouse’s grandmother’s take on a chocolate mousse icebox pie.
With Whoopsie’s closed on Tuesday and Wednesday, Faulkner and Rouse plan to offer the space those nights to pop-ups and roving Atlanta chefs. They hope to start announcing the lineup this spring.
“We like the idea of Whoopsie’s being possessive and not plural, like this is the name of the proprietor,” Faulkner says. “It’s not perfect, and that’s fine, but we take it seriously enough without taking the fun out of eating and drinking. We just want it to be comfortable, the type of place we would go on our days off, like a dinner party where you’re among friends.”
Open Thursday through Monday, 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
1 Moreland Avenue, Atlanta.