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Everything posted by Mayur

  1. Mayur

    Per Se

    I think the reason for "alcohol being included in the default price" is that many folk (including myself) consider wine a default part of the dining experience, especially at this sort of level with this cuisine. While I might go to Masa and drink only tea (it's done in some Japanese culinary contexts), I would never go to a restaurant that is essentially doing French haute cuisine with some "American" touches and fail to order wine. Not to say that teetotaling with this food is "badwrongfun," but rather that I think the "default" for this sort of cuisine tends to be with wine(s) rather than without. As to whether Per Se is "worth it": My dislike of the Columbus Circle mall setting probably colors my experience somewhat, but my preference would be to have two meals at JG, or a meal at JG and one at the Modern. The service is utterly stellar, but the food is not my favorite style, since I find Keller's cuisine goes a little too far in the direction of refinement at the expense of pure flavor. Do you get what you pay for? Sure. Is it necessarily going to be worth it even for someone with $450 to burn? No.
  2. Plus if the high-quality cocktail venues in NY, Chicago, SF, etc. can get away with charging $12 for a 3- to 4-ounce pour, then the market is clearly there. I've discussed the possibility of scaling down cocktails and offering them at $6-9 for a 3-ounce pour. I can see price-sensitive consumers seeing value in that even if the overall critical mass for cocktail geeks isn't present to encourage the trend. divalasvegas: A vodka martini really shouldn't be the default, though. That said, nor should a one-drop-of-vermouth martini. The "classic" martini had neither of those features (Churchill et al were going against the trend *and* having to survive on reduced product from France in asking for "dry" martinis, and the vodka martini did not exist as a "martini" as late as Embury [1948], who calls it a kangaroo).
  3. I'm a big fan of verte de Fougerolles, myself. Thujone quotient isn't all that relevant to me, to be honest; flavor profile is. Sorta the same way I wouldn't choose coffee based on caffeine level. The main advantage of absinthe to my mind is its general assertiveness of flavor and presence of more complex aromatics (and a slight floral accent on the mid-palate) than pastis, both of which come to the fore heavily in cocktails (not to mention that absinthe doesn't cloud cocktails by loucheing).
  4. LeNells might have it, although their selection of foreign booze is relatively limited (though good).
  5. It's really good. (Although for some reason I thought that cocktail was made with gin and not rum; did you change it from the "test" version, John, or am I just remembering incorrectly?) Regardless, it's darn good.
  6. You'd be surprised. I certainly was, but it has changed my cocktail-making habits like you wouldn't believe.
  7. Three words: Concord grape vinegar. Oh yeah!
  8. One other minor thing that seems to get skipped in discussion of where to go drinking: If you want the full experience, IMHO it is best to sit at the bar rather than at a table. This goes double for Pegu, which has a spectacularly beautiful bar and is big enough that you may not really see it in action depending on the table you get.
  9. I was being a bit fulsome [and jokey], of course!
  10. Word. There tonight, and as usual the bomb was deployed and detonated in due course. What a staff! Y'all are doing a great job, period. PDT is starting to kick D&Co in the shins and grab its stuff for best bar ever and all the time; fortunately, styles are still very different between the two establishments. On that note: Some "guest bartender" drinks tonight, including a 19th century from Bryan at D&Co and some other notables. Good choices (and Daniel, the handsome and soft-spoken 'tender this evening, walked me through a few), though the presentation of classics was a bit lacking, I'd like to see more "sell" of classics by the tenders. Thoughts?
  11. Welcome to NYC! As you are in the midst of the cocktail renaissance, your options in NYC are many and varied. I might separate them as follows: The Gold Standard: Pegu Club. You WILL receive a fabulous martini. The atmospherezxe will be swank. All will be well with the world. The crowd will be... well, utterly random. Anything from industry people to "What can I get that's like a Cosmo" tourists. But the selection, the staff training, and the overall experience rocks. The Underground Hideaway: PDT. Milk and Honey is a great bar; please don't get me wrong (and I apologize to the kind and skilled M&H staff), but wow is PDT the place to be at the moment. Plus their fall house cocktail menu is insanely good. Try to go when eGulleteers Johnder or donbert are there (usually Monday). The Bar of Bars Bar None: Death & Company. Okay; I'm biased; this is my local, and I spend an inordinate amount of time here. But man is it good! There are three bartenders (Phil, Bryan, and Joaquin) driving the place, each with highly distinctive styles, and man are they all good! IMHO, the issue of being able to order a slightly obscure classic with little fuss is redundant here (ask the guys at D&Co or PDT for a Horse's Neck and you get the question of default vs. scotch, followed by a brief explanation of why the Horse's Neck is rather a useless drink and something else might serve better), and the quality of invention is superb (Joaquin's tequila negroni, special Manhattan, and Macallan "sazerac" may be the best cocktails I've had *ever*.) All that said, if you're in NYC on Monday, you *must* hit PDT for John and don's concoctions, which are the bomb.
  12. Curse the eG! I got home from the airport at 12:30 am. Read this thread at 12:50 am. Was out the door by 1:00 am. Just got home after an apple kimchi, spicy squid, pig's head torchon, and cheesecake. Things are better than ever, IMO. One thing I do feel compelled to note (since it often flies under the radar) is that the quality of cuisine at MSB isn't entirely independent of who's cooking. This is sort of a truism, but seems to have gone ignored in this thread, at least. F'rex, Tien being there seems to make a noticeable difference (at least to me) in the quality of the cuisine. Curious as to what others think.
  13. Sadly, looks like Toby will still be in NYC this weekend, so no chance for him to be behind the bar if/when I visit TVH. Oh, the irony! Still, I'm sure the place will not disappoint... [EDIT: FWIW, you can't get bitters at liquor stores in NYC, the singular exception being LeNells in Brooklyn. I thought it might have been a legal thing, actually; something about selling grocery items in a liquor store. However, I haven't checked in on code.]
  14. Well, crap. I originally went to this thread just to read it, and to ask two totally different questions of TVH's Alchemist: 1) You mentioned that you're doing some specific cocktails during "slow hours" only? Is there a slow shift at TVH, and is it remotely possible that said shift (or specific time in shift) might occur during a hypothetical visitor's stay from a Friday afternoon to Monday evening? 2) Will you be back in Chicago by this weekend, or not quite? Would love to see your mad skilz behind the wood, as I've seen those absurd videos (though sadly missed you through years of visits at Pegu & especially M&H!).
  15. Actually just popping in from NYC to check out this thread, but my answer would be: IMHO, maybe. To raise brand awareness, position for growth (i.e., maybe opening another branch or two, possibly in cities other than Chicago), or simply have the driver for a project that keeps you thinking flexibly and thus at the top of your game as a bar manager/beverage director/mixologist? Sure. As a sui generis money maker? I dunno. I was just recently speaking with a craft bitters maker who puts together excellent product, which I'm hoping to incorporate in an upcoming venture, but I just don't see the money there. Few bars, and potentially fewer liquor or grocery stores (since bitters are a grocery item in most jurisdictions anyway) will be willing to stock a bitter outside of Angostura or maybe Peychaud's, Regan's, or Fee's (and two out of those three have a major liquor distribution channel). The bars that stock them simply won't use enough of the product to generate substantial revenues (how many bottles of Hermes orange bitters or house-made Abbotts or summer bitters do you go through in a month?), and home users will always be few and far between, even if the cocktail trend assumes Starbucks-level proportions. In all likelihood, every single good bar in NYC will take your bitters because every. single. bartender. I've ever met at the craft cocktail bars in NYC respects and admires what you do. The same probably would apply in San Fran, Seattle, etc (although I don't really know those environments). Your best bet probably would be to offer them for take-away sale out of those bars in the same way that Regan's, Peychaud's, and pomegranate molasses have been sold out of Pegu to retail customers. (Maybe ask Audrey for input?) But I just don't see any scale (or good margins, relative to labor cost) there. To my mind, it's either a labor of love (which is extra-cool, don't get me wrong!) or a means of promoting your bar and the related concept, which is a real business tool IMHO, and could yield real return on investment.
  16. Cocktail of the day: The Gibraltar 1.5 gin (Plymouth, all I have left and fine for this anyway) 0.75 suze 1 honeyed vinegar (1 part champagne vinegar, 1 part white balsamic, 1 part wildflower honey, 1 part membrillo dissolved in water) 2 dashes orange bitters [This is inspired, incidentally, by the use of a cocktail containing concord grape vinegar developed by donbert at PDT.] All I have to say is that I may just give up thinking about making my own vermouths and just do vinegar for cocktails; it's a delicious input into these sorts of drinks. I was basically playing around with Pegu Club's white negroni to get at this, but it's so much more Spanish/North African in sensibility. (Suze seems to be all over the place in the former French colonies, FWIW.) But I'm definitely thinking that spices and vinegars in cocktails are the coming trend, just because there's such a world of possibilities out there for experimentation.
  17. Mmm! Might you share your ratafia recipe with us mortals, or is it a trade secret?
  18. Seconded. Should have thought of that place; I can practically reach it by jumping down off my balcony!
  19. That's awesome! Tender him my compliments; it's a great place, and my dad and his friends (all South Indian veg Brahmin types) love the food. Has Devi reopened yet? My impression was that it was still closed. I will have to make it back and say hi to Suvir and Hemant...I'm a big fan of the starters at Chola, specifically the kalmi kabab, kodi vepudu, and era varuval. The chettinad dishes are awfully good, including the chicken chettinad and lamb pepper fry. Lots of good stuff there, to be honest, although I prefer the South Indian standards at Saravanaas.
  20. Mayur


    How many years of aging does it have? 30? How would you compare the apple-specific character to, say, 6 year oldf Calvados? I'm also curious as to whether you think you would be able to easily identify that Calvados among a blind sampling of several 30 year old Cognacs and Armagnacs. ← About 26 years of aging, and actually, I have "identified that Calvados" [the '77, actually] among a large set of blind tastings at the Brandy Library a couple years back. It's pretty different from younger calvados, which tends to be rougher and lose the fruit to the oak. Armagnacs get a re-manifestation of the fruit flavor at a certain point in the aging curve as well.
  21. Mayur


    I'd say it's true of calvados. I have a bottle of Coeur de Lion 1975 sitting on my bar and the aroma and top-of-the-palate flavors have interesting, albeit subtle, fruit nuances.
  22. Laird's bonded costs around $15 a bottle; Calvados is MUCH more expensive unless you're buying glorified hooch. It is, IMHO, also a completely different animal; the good stuff has more assertive oak notes, a hint of remembered fermentation "funk," and some beautiful flower-grassy elements that don't come with the Laird's bonded. Not that the Laird's isn't a fine product, but it's just different, and makes for different cocktails.
  23. That'd be the Elder Fashion, which is an old-fashioned with gin, St. Germain for the sugar, orange bitters (?) and a grapefruit (IIRC, not lemon) peel. [EDIT: That's it; I spend too much time at that bar if I'm getting back to you before the actual person who might have made your drink did. ]
  24. Yeah, I was assuming that too... hence my comment about "local" vs "seasonal." However, there is a WIDE seasonal variation in the availability of citrus fruits; some of the interesting ones (sour oranges, Sevilles, blood oranges) are only available (and then sporadically) in certain winter months, and others reach their peak in winter (notably grapefruit). I know I'm waiting on winter to start my own Picon (Sevilles), sour orange "grenadine," and grapefruit and blood orange bitters. Certainly a source for cocktailian innovation!
  25. Peasant didn't work, hm? (And I would avoid ANY non-reservations place of a Saturday.) I would consider seeing about cancellations or other availability. Put in feelers to a couple of places, and I'm sure at least one will give you a window. In order of likelihood of cancellation, I'd go as follows: -Peasant -Alta -Cafe Cluny -Tailor (yeah, I know, it's a stretch, but the place had a few empty tables when I stopped by early a Saturday evening) I can't remember if Perry Street serves food at the lounge-y area near the front of the place, but that might work for you as well.
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