The Ultimate Cocktail

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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.

Minetta Tavern

113 Macdougal St. New York, NY 10012(212) 475-3850minettatavernny.com

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If it weren’t for the reputation, most people would walk right past this place. Even upon entering, there is honestly nothing worth mentioning that you might not find at 100 other places that look and feel just like it in the city. It’s a gastro pub.

Also, not a fan of the reservation process. First of all, they block out 6pm to 9pm for people who have VIP status. So, unless you know someone, which I fortunately did, you can’t get a table at a reasonable time. That said, you can always walk in and eat at the bar. But even that can be a 30-45 min wait, and the bar area is my  definition of cramped hell. Not a place I would ever want to eat, with people leaning over you to get the bartender’s attention, placing their dirty glasses next to your plate, etc…

On the plus, the bar has some great cocktails. We each had the Rhubarb Sophie and it was VERY good. DUI good. If I wasn’t driving I probably would’ve had two more.

Another plus is the service. I know a lot of people have said that they are NY rude, but I guess I didn’t notice it. From hostess to bartender to waiter, every one was good.

Now for the main event, the food. Getting off to a bumpy start, I found the bread to be very disappointing. As was the special pork belly appetizer.

But then, the entrees came and holy burger heaven- the Black Label is everything they say it is. The meat is so moist and flavorful it’s as if they ground up baby angels to make it. The marinated onions and the bun- so good. Didn’t put a thing on it. No ketchup or mustard. Used them for the fries, which are just eh. If you want the best fries in the city (if not the country), try Ilili’s Phoenician Fries. But anyway- back to the burger. Patty for patty, probably the best burger meat I’ve ever had.

The Za Za pasta was also a solid good. Basically a slight variation on a carbonara. Compared to the burger though, you’d have to be crazy to order it- so I suppose I just insulted the wife. #doghouse

And last but not least, dessert. We went with the Grand Marnier souffle. Probably the best one I’ve ever had. Spot on perfect. And they don’t go light on the hooch.

So, between the burger and dessert it’s hard not to go 4 knives. But with the decor and opening misses, it’s also far from perfect.

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