The Ultimate Cocktail

keynote2-who-are-we

Maysville – New York, NY

Being that I’m a heat-seeker it should come as no surprise that I even like my drinks spicy. And what makes the alchemy of the Bourbon Bonnet such a triumph isn’t just the spice. It’s the refreshing contrast of elements, like the sweetness of the pineapple juice against the jalapeno infused bourbon. And while the spiciness is worth a warning for some, the bigger caution is that they are WAY too easy to drink. So much so that you’ll easily be three or four in before you even realize you left your underwear in the bathroom.

Minetta Tavern – New York, NY

While you’re sitting there stuck at the bar waiting for a table, do yourself a solid and turn lemons into a warm and fuzzy buzzy. Three sheets to the wind later you’ll care less about the fact that you just waited two hours for a burger. The drink is comprised of Tito’s Vodka, cucumber, agave nectar, rhubarb bitters, lime and something that apparently makes you fall in love with the notion of ordering a second round of Rhubarb Sophies.

The Rickhouse – San Francisco, CA

There’s something about this place that just makes you want to drink whiskey. And there’s something about the La Bonne Vie that makes you lose track of that whiskey. I would imagine the smooth bourbon is partly to blame. And the refreshing lemon and grapefruit juice doesn’t hurt either. Keeping it far from sweet. As does the fresh basil, which brightens the whole thing up. And bitters to bring an old school complexity and depth to the whole thing.

Balaboosta – New York, NY

There is a lot right about Balaboosta, but none righter than the thirst-quenching, buzz-inducing Hana. Made with Fifty Pounds Gin, triple sec, lime and arak, it’s a crazy mash up of cultures in a high ball. But apart from just being a kickass cocktail, the Hana pairs so unbelievably well with the food due to the arak.

Brushstroke – New York, NY

Apparently the Japanese Cucumber with Almond has been on New York Magazine’s top ten cocktail list 2 years running. I know this because our rather braggadocios waiter informed us of such. But as cocky as he was, he was also well within his right, because it really is quite something. Made with gin, lime, cucumber (obviously), and coarse ground roasted almonds used to dust the rim as a variation on the sugar and salt that you normally come across on most other cocktails.

Mata Chica – Ambergris Caye, BZ

It’s been a while since I was there, but that’s how enduring my love is for the rum punch at Mata Chica (of Temptation Island fame). Made by a charismatic young man named Winston, the balance of sweetness to refreshing to inebriating was dangerously perfect. Luckily you are in the middle of nowhere, with not a car in sight for miles, so drinking and driving isn’t even an option. Drinking and drowning, however…

ABC Cocina – New York, NY

You could give Tom Cruise a week and unlimited tosses and twirls with bottles and cocktail shakers, but I sincerely doubt he could ever make a cocktail as staggeringly good as the blood orange margarita at ABC. Not that there’s too much more to describe as the name of the drink itself is rather self explanatory, that said, the euphoric sensation you get when it hits your lips is beyond explanation.

Truck – Bedford, NY

I find it hard to go with just one drink here because the Power Wagon margarita is more than just a drink, it’s a franchise. A brand unto itself, spinning out seasonal versions like a game on the App Store. For example, here are some of the “updates:” grapefruit, blood orange, cranberry, pumpkin, jalapeno and of course the formidable classic. And everyone one of them is awesome. And everyone one of them is as strong as all get out, so go easy or go with a designated driver.

Burger & Barrel – New York, NY

Most Bloody Mary purists are about to scoff, so I’ll wait while you preemptively get those scoffs out of the way…. Done? Good. So, while I do indeed love the classic and have had my fair share of some delicious ones, this inventive twist on the tried and true had me at jalapenos. Made with tequila instead of vodka, the Bloody Maria puts the Mary through a Mexican lens and out comes a hybrid that could give the Prius a run for its money.

Brushstroke

30 Hudson St. New York, NY 10013(212) 791-3771 • davidbouley.com/brushstroke-main

brushstroke_v1_460x285

Once upon a time David Bouley was at the pinnacle of the culinary game. I ate at his flagship back in 1995 and it was as if I had never truly understood the purpose of having a mouth until that day.

Well, since then I have eaten at Danube (RIP) and now Brushstroke and while both restaurants were/are definitely good, neither are even close to what Bouley once was.

Located on the gravesite of Danube, a striking Klimt museum with food, this new swipe at glory comes from the Far East, backed by Japan’s finest culinary school, boasting more Michelin stars than the next ten schools combine. But unfortunately none of that really matters. Because at the end of the day, all one ever cares about is whether or not it gives you a foodgasm.

Well, ecstasy was regrettably not in the cards, although many a dish in our tasting menu was indeed tasty. My favorite was the soup with foie gras. The smoked duck with sweet potato was a close second and the pork belly with peach and walnuts a close third. The custard and lobster soup was also pretty great, but the custard got to be a little much after the lobster ran out. The sashimi would be next for me with the best of it being the sweet shrimp. And then I’d go with the langoustines served with heirloom tomatoes or the skate and rice soup. Granted the latter was a bit too salty to be fair.

After that it was pretty average, mixed with a few flat-out misses for such a price point. The biggest misses being the rock fish entrée, which was so bland they tried to zazz it up with shrimp and mussels and even those couldn’t save it. The other fish option, the drum fish, had its zazz built in and was much, much better.

But the biggest misses of the night were the desserts. We had three and of the lot we didn’t finish a single one. The best was the soy ice cream with pecan, but that’s not saying much, because both green tea desserts weren’t even worthy of star-shaped sticker from one of my daughter’s sticker books, much less one from Michelin.

Service was good, but not flawless. A couple of mistakes here and there, like trying to clear a dish before it was finished. And décor, while nice, simply can’t compare to Danube.

And now for my biggest issue of the meal, the tasting menu itself. It is littered with additions to various courses, but for a hefty fee, and by “hefty” I mean roughly the cost of an entire meal at most other restaurants ($45-75 depending on the addition). So, you wind up feeling like a cheapskate for not adding them, when you are already throwing down some serious coin as is. And of course those dishes are the best sounding options on the menu. But if you opted in for each of them, you would more than double the cost of your dinner. So, make up your mind Brushstoke, either up the cost of your tasting menu and make it better, create a separate more expensive tasting menu that has these options already on it, or lose them altogether.

Back on the plus side, the cucumber and roasted almond gin cocktail is incredible. Refreshing, with a nice twist of dusted almonds on the rim. And the gin they use was so smooth I think it lifted a twenty out of my wallet without me even noticing. No wonder it’s been on the top ten list of Manhattan cocktails three years running. If only everything that followed was at the same level, then we’d be talking five knives instead of three.

3 teeth