Amstel What?

Amstel light?

Any white wine except Chardonnay?

Grey Goose and Coke?

I squeezed my eyes shut for a moment wondering whether I had been spontaneously teleported to an eternal-frat-boy bar on the Upper East Side. I cautiously peeked only to find I was still sitting with LP and T in the Flatiron Lounge on 19th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues.

This was the second shift in the crowd during our two hours at the bar. Shortly after we arrived, the loud after-work crew petered out, making space for the likes of us cocktail appreciators and allowing us some QT with one of the expert bartenders. We sighed, appreciating the dim light and the jazzy notes of Ella Fitzgerald as we mulled a second round.

For the first, I had a Daisy DeSantiago with rum, chartreuse and lime juice. It was delightful, though a little heavy on the citrus. LP's first drink was an Old-Fashioned with a base of Rittenhouse Rye. Also quite a nice drink. She felt, in fact, that it was better than the Old-Fashioned she had the night prior with our dear old Pappy Van Winkle.

Good drinks, indeed, but it was the second round that really shook my shaker. After watching me struggle with indecision, the bartender told me not to feel bound by the menu. Well then, I wanted something with bourbon and bitters, and could I leave the rest up to him? Not to worry! I sighed with relief, feeling that I was in very good hands.

The bartender concocted a mix of Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Amaro (an Italian liqueur), two dashes of bitters, and what I thought he said was sherry liqueur, but I can't seem to verify that. With a flourish, he set the top of the drink aflame and rubbed an orange peel over the rim. And with charm, he explained that the bitter orange oil on the rim of the glass was part of the tasting experience. It was a take on the Carroll Gardens, a cocktail named after the neighborhood in Brooklyn.

It was wonderful, sexy, bold, and intoxicating.

And then, the young man behind me ordered an Amstel Light, and his friend ordered a Grey Goose and Coke. Our charming bartender was swallowed in a sea of bad orders coming from a mob twenty-somethings, and the music went from Ella to something post-Millenium. We fled.

(Why? Why must you come to a fabulous cocktail lounge to drink cheap beer and over-marketed vodka with soft drinks?)

While we wandered over to Coffee Shop for late night snackage, LP mentioned to me that there was a cocktail convention in town this weekend, yet another reminder that I need to put myself on some type of event mailing list.

The first Manhattan Cocktail Classic took place this weekend. Although I was too late in the know to sign up for any of the seminars, A. and I visited the official bar this afternoon. Details on those cocktails to come because frankly, I am too tired from the indulgence to give you a proper report.

But life is not all about cocktails. It's true! And, earlier in the week I had a wonderful dinner during a girls night out. We went to Allegretti, a French restaurant on 22nd Street.

It's been awhile since I dined at the type of restaurant where they ask if you would like champagne when you sit and fold your napkin while you are in the ladies' room. The waiter was patient and attentive, answering all of our questions about the menu without condescension. He was also well versed in wines, suggesting a pinot noir that would accompany the fish I ordered without overpowering its taste. I had the whole-roasted Dorado, which was not actually whole, but rather two fillets still in the skin. The fish, which was served with fennel, was cooked perfectly.

All of us were pleased with our entrees. Before we left, the chef came by to ask if we enjoyed our meal, making our dining experience that much more pleasant. Between the good food, the company and the delicious anise cookies served for desert, it was a lovely meal.

From there we went to see God of Carnage, a wonderfully funny show (though one has to wonder whether the tossing of the cookies was just some sort of random writer's ploy).

There you have it readers. Another week. I realize there wasn't much of a theme. What can I say? Some weeks are just themeless. Or maybe they are just busy.

Stay tuned! More gastronomic pondering to come.


  1. mmmm! Buffalo Trace! I would be afraid to ruin it by mixing with anything, but your bartender sounds like a genius.


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