NYC, February 13, 2008

I have met a couple folks via the food and cocktail forums on eGullet over the years.

A couple guys I knew from their foodblogs and cocktail posts were John Deragon and Don Lee. Serious foodies and tech workers who moonlight as bartenders at PDT, I dropped them a note to see if they would be interested in getting together for a few drinks.

I got off my flight, took a cab to the hotel, and gave John a call. He said he and Don would be at Death + Company, and that they would be glad to take me around to a few bars in the East Village.

One interesting thing that Death + Company has been doing lately is a bartender exchange program. A bartender from Death + Company travels to a bar in another city for a week or so and a bartender from the remote bar/city travels to NYC and bartends at Death + Company for a week. The night I was there, Kirk from the Violet Hour in Chicago was behind the bar along with Brian. With Brian busy, I asked Kirk for something aromatic, and he suggested a Chartreuse Swizzle. Composed of, well, a lot of Chartreuse, a house made falernum, and pineapple juice in a tall glass with crushed ice, it also had a spectacular flamed chartreuse float. While Kirk was getting the other ingredients together, he set a shot of chartreuse on fire in a large jigger. Then, after rest of the drink was ready, he poured the still burning chartreuse over the mint sprig garnish, setting it on fire, briefly, like a mini christmas tree. The aroma of the flamed chartreuse and mint was really wonderful, and the drink a nice kick start to a spectacular evening.

Other cocktails were drunk, there was the usual bartender shop talk. Some demonstration of stirring technique. I learned that Philip Ward from Death + Company will be bartending at Alembic in San Francisco, while Thomas Waugh and Daniel Hyatt pull stints at Death + Company. Then we decided we should get out of the way at Death + Company and headed to PDT.

At PDT, the boys were off to deal with separate crises, and left me at the bar to fend for myself. I started with a nice Brooklyn Pilsner, to get myself more on an even keel after the potent drinks at Death + Company. I chatted with Jane at the bar and asked her advice on a rye drink. She suggested something that may have been called a Rattlesnake or Snakebite. It was basically a rye sour with egg white, and pastis instead of bitters. She even topped it off with a bit of champagne. Quite delicious. Don was nice enough to get me a couple of Crif Dog’s famous hot dogs, the eponomous John Deragon dog, with cream cheese and avocado over a deep fried bacon wrapped hot dog, and a Chang Dog, which involved kimchi and a bacon wrapped deep fried hot dog. I have to admit my lack of fondness for dairy, left me in favor of the Chang dog.

Eventually, we moved to a table where Garrett Oliver, brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewing, was sitting with a friend. More conversation, cocktails involving bacon infused bourbon, and things began to get a bit blurry.

Eventually, Don and John packed me into a car with a few of their friends and sent me back to my hotel.

Quite an evening!

Thanks to everyone who I met that evening for a whirlwind of amazing drinks, conversation, and fun!

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