Thursday, March 10, 2011


Last night I was out with my foodie friend David, we started the evening over dinner at chef John Fraser's What Happens When a temporary restaurant (in Nolita) that changes it's menu and decor every 30 days for 9 months.  The decor and menu we got last night was winter changing to spring.  The menu is a prix fix for $58.  I liked the deconstructed art project look of the place with pink bird houses sitting in and amongst this architectural crawling structural teal painted wood sculpture that went from floor to ceiling. There were also a couple of swings hanging from the "sculpture" that had little stuffed birds on moss....and next month it will be something totally different.  Fun and a reason to keep you going back.  The food was great, tender melt in your mouth shirt ribs on Cheddar polenta and a kick ass chocolate ganache and praline dessert.  My only compliant was that for $58 I would have thought I would have left full... I got home and was hungry and ended my evening eating corn chips out of the bag in front of my computer.

After dinner David asked me if I wanted to go for a night cap at a place on Essex street called
Painkiller.  I love any bar called Painkiller so I said sure!  Besides I was curious how I could miss a bar on a street I walk down daily and had never noticed.

Turns out the outside of the bar is rather confusing, it's at 40 Essex St just south of Grand, but there is no number out front and instead of having the name of the bar outside it has a rather tacky spray painted sign that just says Tiki Bar.  I had walked by before and thought it was some undesirable bridge and Tunnel place and never given it another thought.  Turns out it is an uber cool secret (well or not so secret at this point) subterranean bar.  Think 1950's polyensian tiki room on acid.  The menu is so extensive and funny that it could take an hour to make up your mind. Luckily the staff is very well informed and helpful. The first thing our waitress did was bring us two glasses of water and as she put them down she said something to the effect of: "you always have to have water to take with your pain killers".  Famous for their party sized cocktails like Scorpion Bowl or Zombie Punch  which can cost as much as $80 and serve 6 or more people, I opted out for a ginger drink called a Dark and Frosty.  Which was delicious!   I was very happy to see on their website that they list the recipe!

Dark & Frosty
2 oz. Gosling’s rum
1/2 oz. lime
3/4 oz. ginger.
1/2 oz. demerara syrup
Blend til smooth. Pour into Collins. Garnish with ginger candy.

Of course I wonder what they mean when they say  3/4 ginger....I'm guessing syrup and demerara syrup is just a simple syrup made with demerara sugar....

I'm not exactly what you would call a cocktail kind of guy,  I drink red wine, maybe on the rare occasion a beer (it's so fattening!) but never cocktails, yet on the last month or so I have been swept up in the mixologist frenzy that has swept NYC and have been to 3 bars that all do amazing things with booze bitter, syrups, ice and grated spice. In addition to Painkiller there is Mayahuel, which I love and have written about before.  Mayahuel is first and foremost a Mescal and Tequila bar.  If you don't want to drink it sip the high quality mescal beverages straight like I do there are many clever cocktails on offer. I had a beer cocktail called a michelada it was dangerously delicious and went perfectly with my organic Del Maguey mescal. 

Death and Company which is often sited as having one of the best mixologist in town has a bar that looks more like an old fashioned apothecary then anything else, bright chandelier light just in case someone might need to do an emergency autopsy and serious bartenders who the night I was there weren't so interested in friendly service, nonetheless the drinks rock and watching them make them is pure theater, I'd certainly go back and recommend it to anyone interested in mixology (and booze).

Now I need to take 2 Advil and lay down.

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