Skip to main content

How to Construct the Perfect Raw Bar

Easy Bistro & Bar, raw bar
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Feasting is our column dedicated to cooking, grilling, eating and discovering what’s on the menu across America and the world.

A great restaurant with an equally awesome raw bar is a true gem. Chef Erik Niel knows this, which is one of the reasons his Chattanooga, Tennessee spot Easy Bistro & Bar is forever on our hit list. The New Orleans native grew up fishing on the bayou, so his menu is chock-full of dishes inspired by his hometown and features seafood from all three American coasts.

To Chef Niel, knowing how to properly prepare seafood is an important skill for every home cook, especially when entertaining. So he shared a few pro tips on how to shuck and serve oysters and stock your raw bar, sure to come in handy whether you’re hosting a dinner for two or party for 20.

Easy Bistro & Bar
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Shucking technique: I’m a proponent of the towel and shucking knife. Towel in my left hand folded over the oyster to grip it. Knife at the point, twist and move back on the top shell, separating the adductor. Then separate the bottom adductor and go.

Stocking the raw bar: A good oyster knife, towels, ice, lemons, Champagne mignonette, caviar, really nice extra virgin olive oil, whatever good quality pickled veg you can get your hands on – pickled ramps, celery, onions, peppers, etc.

Favorite preparation: Oysters on the half shell with a spritz of lemon juice and a dollop of caviar. It’s so simple and so perfect together.

Easy Bistro & Bar
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Making your own champagne mignonette at home is easy. Follow this simple recipe from Chef Niel to complete your raw bar at home.

Champagne Mignonette
2 cup Champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1 cup shallots (brunoise)
1/2 cup black peppercorn (cracked)

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, mix with a fork or whisk. Hold no longer than 1 day.

To learn more about Erik Niel, visit Photos by Beth Kirby

Amanda Gabriele
Amanda Gabriele is a food and travel writer at The Manual and the former senior editor at Supercall. She can’t live without…
Get ready for party season with these batched summer margaritas
Coconut margaritas and prickly pear margaritas for a crowd
batched margarita recipes dsc03954 1

When you're preparing drinks for a crowd, batching cocktails is always a great idea. While it's great fun to make customized drinks for each of your guests, and that's something you can and should attempt for smaller gatherings, with a larger group you won't have time to individually mix drinks for each person. I find that it's fun to make individual drinks for groups of five or six, but more than that becomes difficult and has you running around the kitchen all night.

Instead, make your life easier by preparing a large amount of one or two cocktails ahead of time. You can mix up a big batch of drink and leave it in your fridge, then add ice when your guests arrive and garnish each drink as you serve it. That way, people still get the special feeling of a delicious cocktail but you won't be quite so frantic while trying to host.

Read more
A pair of regenerative whiskies to promote sustainable farming
WhistlePig and Brother's Bond are teaming up with this pair of American whiskies
regenerative whiskies whistlepig brothers bond bb wp bundle 6 scaled jpg

Beloved whiskey brand WhistlePig is known for its interest in farm to bottle production, with a focus on farming practices similar to what you'll find in many high-end restaurants. Now, the brand is teaming up with bourbon manufacturer Brother’s Bond to promote sustainable farming with each company releasing its own farm-based expression.

WhistlePig is debuting its new annual release of its FarmStock Beyond Bonded Rye Whiskey, and Brother’s Bond is releasing a Regenerative Grain Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The two brands will be donating a portion of sales from each bottle to Regenerate America, a regenerative agriculture coalition which aims to promote sustainable farming and health soil.

Read more
4 simple gin cocktails anyone can make (that taste delicious)
Everyone can make these gin-based cocktails
gin cocktail


While we mix with any spirit during the warmer months (we live a good whiskey Highball), we tend to gravitate towards un-aged spirits like blanco tequila, vodka, white rum, and gin. The latter just might be our favorite spirit to mix with between June and September for a variety of reasons.

Read more