Ah, yes, Saturday. After waking up and getting ready, we headed out with a buddy Ed for some more drinking and a few places Ed wanted to take us. Our first stop, Aquavit where Ed plies his humble trade. After navigating our way to the restaurant, dealing with the road closures and the throngs of people there for the Pope's visit, we made our way to the bar.
We started off with some flights of Aquavits. I can't remember what everyone else had, but I tried the Blueberry, the Fig-Cardamom and the NYC blend (which is white cranberry.) All of the aquavits had a wonderful nose of them. The smelled exactly as the flavor imparted. The taste was much lighter than the nose would have to believe. Each one I tasted was very good. My favorite flavor though would come later in the sitting.
As Sean mentioned, we were treated to a varitable smorgsbord (hehehehe, I really wanted to use that word while writing about Aquavit!) of food to taste. We started with three types of herring - curried, pickled and something called "gentleman's delight" - all of which were very good. We then had a hot smoked salmon with squid-ink mustard and some white creamy/cheesy sauce. Another fantastic plate. Then the waiter brings out a tasting of lobster rolls. These were fantastic (probably my favorite thing I ate) - lobster meat inside thinnly sliced pickled apples with salmon roe and small squares of smoked bacon on top with a little sauce on the side. Delicious!!! Just when we were thanking everybody for the great food, another plate comes out with a meatball tasting. Each plate had a mountain of mashed potatoes, four meatballs and gravy, pickles and lingonberries. Our bartender for the afternoon Alex (a wonderful hostess - friendly, incredibly attractive and fun to talk to!) poured us each a small glass of lingonberry aquavit. This was my favorite of all the aquavits we tried.
This is the lingonberry aquavit. Ummmmm . . .
We bid our farewells to the nice folks at Aquavit and decided to head over to the Museum of Modern Are where Ed worked in the Cafe. The Cafe at MoMA is part of the Danny Meyer umbrella of restaurants. Probably the best cafe/museum food in the US. There we had a charcuterie plate and some coffee. Then we walked around a bit, had the Meryl Streep siting, saw some wierd stuff (guess I'm not into the whole modern art thing) and headed over to The Modern.
Ed had been talking about a cocktail at the Modern for quite some time and I felt that I had to give it a shot. The drink was called "Coming Up Roses" and contained muddled rose petals, rose water, simple syrup, lemon juice, gin (I think) and topped off with champagne. After I took my first sip, I noticed two things. First, it did indeed have a wonderful rose taste and smell. Second, it was way too sweet for me. Luckily after about three sips a bartender came by and added more champagne to the drink. This happened twice and by that time the drink was indeed great. The smell and taste of rose, the bubbles from the champagne and just enough sweetness to really feel like you were drinking a rose cocktail. We had a great time talking with the bartenders there too. They gave us suggestions on places to try for cocktails and Ed talked about several restaurants he worked at. We were trying decide if we wanted another round and asked if we could split a cocktail called Twlights Clearing which contained boubon, pear puree, basil and lime juice. It was another fantastic cocktial and better yet when informed it was on the house. Score! So far we had had free aquavit, a smorgsbord of scandanavian food and a cocktail at the Modern. This is the way to see NYC!
After leaving the Modern I wanted to walk over to the new location of Nat Sherman. I think I've been to Nat Sherman every time I've visited NYC and certainly wanted to see their new location. Their new shop is across the street and less than a block over from their old location but all of the charm is still there. Sean purchased a boxed set of cigars and was dying to have a smoke. He asked if there was a place there to smoke and George the Greek (yes, that's how he introduced himself) offered to take us down to the new lounge. I decided I would buy a cigar to smoke downstairs, but before I could make a purchase, George the Greek grabbed a cigar out of the humidor, handed it to me and bid me to follow. Wow, free cigar! Talk about a great day!
In the lounge, the three of us smoked our cigars; Sean and Ed had Manhattans from the bar and I had a sparkling water. We talked with a nice couple from Boston who was in town visiting and prior to leaving had a nice conversation with the manager. We all exchanged cards and he welcomed us back whenever we're in town again. We certainly will be back!
We left Nat Sherman's to head over to the next big stop on our cocktail tour, The Pegu Club.
The Pegu Club is named after a British Colonial Officer's Club located up the Rangoon River in Burma in the late 1800's. It is run by the esteemed Audrey Saunders (herself a Goddess of the Libations). Pegu is on the second floor of a building and you enter much like PX. After you go through the front door, you ascend some dim stairs until you turn the corner into very welcoming place.
The hostesses are dressed in kimono-esque garb and the bartenders are sharply dressed as well. We took our seats at the bar and started to look over the menu. Being at the Pegu Club, I had to order a Pegu Cocktail to begin. It was delicious as I expected it would be - a sweet and tart mixture of gin, curacao, lime juice and bitters. We all tried various drinks, I also had a pisco punch using pineapple infused pisco which was fan-fugu-tastic and a Cocktail de la Louisiane. When I ordered the Cocktail de la Louisiane, the bartender didn't know the recipe and said he would have to look it up. I was a bit surprised by this, but no more surprised than he was when I rattled off the recipe. I think he was a little wary of the ingredients, but before handing it to me tasted it and seemed to by happy. When he handed me the drink, he said that he hoped it met my standards. I sipped. It did. Delicious. Every time I have this cocktail, I am always taken to a happy place. But I'll tell you, that pineapple pisco drink came pretty cluse to heaven!
We also decided to eat a little food while at Pegu. I had the chicken satay and Ed and Sean had the salmon deviled eggs. The three of us split the mushroom raviolis which were very good.
We finished eating and were getting ready to get the check. I couldn't leave without at least asking if Audrey was around to say hello. The bartender went to check and a few minutes later, Audrey came behind the bar to say hello. We introduced ourselves and gave her a Scofflaw's Den card and told her of our drinking tour of NYC. She was a gracious host, asking if we liked the Pegu Club, how the food was and even talked to us of the importance of quality. To make her point she said that the mushroom raviolis we had enjoyed were probably going to be dropped from the menu because they don't come out perfectly 100% of the time. We discussed the bars we had already hit, where we wanted to go next and even Ed got into the act telling her about the milkshakes at Stand (See Below). We talked about Tales of the Cocktail a bit and she urged us to go. Damn this job . . . and money . . . and no time . . . Grrrrr.
I loved Pegu! Everything about it is the kind of place where I like to spend time. Audrey was awesome and I really can't wait to go back.
We left Pegu and decided to hit another place Ed wanted to take us to for dinner - Stand Burger. Stand is a neighborhood burger joint that really specializes in milkshakes. Ed had been telling us about the toasted marshmallow milkshake and I knew I had to get one. So I ordered a house buger and a toasted marshmallow milkshake. The burger was okay, I've had better, and honestly, 5 Guys would have put the burger to shame. But the milkshake. Good God this is what a milkshake should be. It came with two toasted marshmallows on top and tasted just what you would think a toasted marshmallow milkshake would taste like. Note to self: Try and make a toasted marshmallow milkshake at home . . .
After Stand we headed to our next stop, Sam Tailor's new restuarant Tailor. Tailor is known for his moleculor gastronomy which he learned from Wylie Dufresne at wd-50. With Tailor and Dufresne at wd-50 was a mad-scientist bartender/mixologist who used the same techniques used on the food on his cocktails. That bartender is Eben Freeman. Eben's cocktails are certainly avant garde and really pushes the evelope on flavor profiles, textures and delivery systems. Having read about what was going on at Tailor, I knew I wanted to give it a try.
We walked through the front door and the first thing I saw was Eben, in his crows-nest type roost above the main dining room mixing drinks for the diners. We told the host we were just there for drinks and followed him down a set of stairs to the bar. After a few minutes of hovering over one barstool, the three of us could all sit at the bar. Troy was our bartender and the first "drink" I got was called the "Solids." It was three small tastings on a plate that consisted of a Cuba Libre in Jello form, a Ramos Gin Fizz marshmallow and a White Russian bowl of rice krispies. It was really neat to try cocktails in solid form. Each piece tasted like the liquid form of the cocktail, with the slight caveat that the Ramos Fizz marshmallow seemed less tart than I expected. Ed drank the mushroom margarita and Sean had the Violet Fizz. (Note: for ingredients in these drinks, check Sean's recap as he twittered each drink we all had with ingredients.)
Our next round of drinks was much more interesting. I had a Blood and Sand that, instead of the orange juice found within the cocktail, the drink was topped with a thick orange foam. As you drank the scotch/vermouth/cherry ale mixture below, it mixed with the orange foam on top to make a Blood and Sand. It was a very good drink, but I think I prefer the more traditional Blood and Sand. Ed got the Waylon, which was bourbon and smoked coke. It was very good. It even ellicited a debate on the cab ride back to Ed's on how the Coke was smoked. Sean on the other hand was not so lucky.
Now Sean loves spicy stuff and has never been one to shy away from anything that is spicy. His drink, the Aqua Verde, contained tequila, tomatillo, cilantro and habenero. All things that we knew he liked. He took one sip and almost fell off his stool. Ed took a drink with the same reaction. Me . . . I'm smarter than that and just enjoyed my Blood and Sand. For the first time in his life, Sean returned a drink. The bartender told us that the drink should be spicy, but graciously took the drink and replaced it with one of Seans' choosing.
At this point, dear readers, I want to step aside from my recap. I want to point out that everyone we met on our cocktail jaunt was kind, gracious and enthusiastic. Troy was a little defensive about Sean returning his drink, but all evening he was nice, helpful and really fun to talk to. After returning to DC, Sean beat me with his recap. As I sit at work yesterday I get a text message with "I'm such a girl. Eben responded. :-)" So I check the comments of his recap and sure enough, Mr. Freeman himself had responded to the post. You can Eben's post here. Seriously, he did not have to take time out of his day to respond, much less read, our little blog. This just underscores the attitude of us cocktail geeks. :-)
Alright, where was I, oh yeah . . . So for Sean's backup he chose the Bazooka. A bright pick cocktail made with bubble gum cordial, vodka and lemon juice. Troy laughed when Sean asked for this and said, "That was NOT what I expected your back-up drink to be!" We all got a good laugh out of that. I tasted the Bazooka (the bubble gum cordial is apparently made by mascerating double-bouble chewing gum in vodka . . . two pounds of gum!) and it really tasted like Bazooka gum. We joked that you wanted to chew the cocktail! My final drink at Tailor was a Mate Sour, which was a pisco sour made with yerba mate. It was earth and sour, a real nice finish to our cocktails at Tailor. So we thanked Troy, settled up and hit the road to our final stop.
That final stop was PDT. PDT, short for Please Don't Tell, is a modern day speakeasy attached to Crif Dogs (a hot dog place) fairly close to Death and Company. You walk down the steps into Crif Dogs and enter into an old wooden phonebooth. You pick up the phone, push the talk button and the back wall slides open where the hostess greets you. The place is very small, probably less that 30 max occupancy, but I'm guessing here. The hostess asked if we had reservations - D'oh! We were told that there was only 13 spots at the bar and the place was full. But she took my cell phone number and said she would call if space opens up. We turned around and went topside, slightly defeated that the last place on our list for this weekend would be denied.
At this point it was fairly late and we were stuffed with food and drink. We thought about going back to Death & Co. or hitting another place like the Flatiron Lounge. In the end, we decided to make it a night and head back to Ed's for some drinks and hanging out around the house.
Sunday, after breakfast, we bid our farewell's to Ed, hung around his place a bit and then headed down to Penn Station. Our train was late from DC, but luckily we got on an earlier train and got back to DC without much hassle.
The trip was simply fantastic. Everyone we met, talked to and had the privilege of drinking their wonderful potions were friendly, professional and gracious. I can see spending long hours at Death & Co. and Pegu Club. I'm looking forward to going back to Tailor and saying hello to Eben and trying more of his cocktails. The food and drink at Ellataria were both fantastic and Lynnette was awesome behind the stick.
PDT, Flatiron Lounge, Little Branch, (maybe trying for Milk & Honey) you three are on notice! The Scofflaw's will be back and we will be on your doorsteps.
I can't wait.