Roundups: We’ll also do in-depth posts on most of these places, but here’s a quick summary of the places we hit on this trip.
Why a puppy picture on a cocktail blog?
Why did we have a bizarre travel itinerary of Drive from Boston to NYC, Fly from NYC to Phoenix, Drive from Phoenix to Tucson … and then do all of that again backwards?
How many great cocktails could we find on this odyssey of stupidity?
Our most effed up trip in years all began with a plan to rehome our foster puppy Ziggy (a rare golden colored Coton du Tulear) with Lorri’s daughter Kensie and her sweet playful lab-chow Rosie. The only direct flight I could find that would fly pets on that route in the summer was from Newark to Phoenix on United’s Pet-Safe program, so we decided to bite the bullet and add 12 hours of driving back and forth from Boston -> NYC and Phoenix -> Tucson.
I was horrified to find out I’d messed up the booking (Ziggy is far too tall to fit under an airline seat) and it was too late to fix the booking. So we left Ziggy with a family who routinely watches him and our Shih Tzu-Yorkie Priscilla for the week and headed out WITHOUT HIM. Yes, the whole reason for this trip didn’t go on the trip. C’est la Vie!
One consolation was that this left us more time to explore new cocktail experiences in NYC and Phoenix/Tucson!
Lorri and I have done the NYC cocktail circuit about 8 times, so we’ve indulged in most of the famous heavyweights: Attaboy, Death and Co., PDT, Angel’s Share, Blacktail, Dead Rabbit, Employees Only, Pouring Ribbons, Raines Law Room, Nomad, Flatiron Lounge. Pegu Club, Little Branch, Leyenda, Clover Club … and several more I’m probably forgetting.
This go-round we decided to bypass ALL of those and only hit places we’ve never been to before, mostly buzzy new cocktail joints but also perhaps a few of the heavyweights we’d missed. Here’s how we did on our NYC nights on the way to Tucson and the way back to Boston:
The Up and Up: We’d been hearing about this cult favorite for 4 years and finally made it! It’s a classic small dark subterranean speakeasy with a friendly atmosphere and an understated mastery of complex cocktails. Lived up to its reputation AND had a super rare Japanese whisky that we couldn’t resist splurging on.
The Polynesian: Brand new Tiki palace in Midtown, maybe the largest and most expensive tiki joint (per square foot) in the world. The staff is still working out the kinks but the foundation for an unforgettable tiki experience is here, complete with a stunner of a cocktail menu from one of the foremost tiki experts in the world.
Existing Conditions: My three great cocktail regrets in life were JUST missing out on Milk and Honey (the late Sasha Petraske), Mayahuel (Phil Ward’s ode to mezcal) and Booker and Dax (associated with the Momofuku empire, and featuring the renowned mad scientist Dave Arnold). The closest I could get to the latter was reading Arnold’s terrific mixology book, LIquid Intelligence. So when news hit that Arnold was FINALLY making his comeback with Existing Conditions, I made that a MUST see on this trip. The menu was as challenging and intriguing as one could have wished for and I felt we’d only scratched the surface of what this place could offer. And yes, I finally got to see Dave Arnold in action!
Dante: I’m not a fan of Italian cocktails and Dante is about as Italian as it gets. But after reading rave after rave and seeing it make so many “World’s Best” lists, we had to make the trip. Surprisingly, Lorri is becoming a fan of Aperol Spritzes and creative Negronis and Dante (apparently the epicenter of these trends) delivered BIG TIME on those and I had my first ever Vermouth Service. Memorable!
Broken Shaker: We loved going to the world famous original Broken Shaker in Miami, a one of a kind experience, so going to the brand new NYC incarnation was a no-brainer. The verdict? It’s a VERY VERY different vibe, very Manhattan (so the Miami Broken Shaker will remain a one of a kind experience) but the drinks were stellar and one came away thinking there’s nothing this place couldn’t make for you (and make it well).
Patent Pending: Does NYC really need another secret entrance speakeasy with a super specific theme, highly intellectual menu design, impeccably trained bartenders and enough darkness to fill six seasons of True Blood? If the result is Patent Pending, the answer is YES, YES, OMG YES. My favorite of the entire trip!