So it is very hard to write about a cocktail crawl because by the time you feel energized to write, you may have forgotten much of what went on. Compound that with still having ADS (after-drinking-stupids) and you might accidentally delete the post instead of posting it. So if this comes out less inspired and more insipid this time, I apologize.
A cocktail crawl–what a brilliant idea! I used to work in restaurant marketing so I appreciate the concept from all sides. As you see desperate restaurants cling to the recession economy for their final dollars, throwing out brunches and happy hours to entice, it is nice to see someone come up with such a good solid idea. Drinkers are happy, they’re paying $20 and getting 4 cocktails ($5/’tail, not bad) and a little variety in their life. Restaurants get to pack in a Monday night crowd at the bar without ill effect on any regular customers.
This particular crawl was showcasing St. Germain, an elderflower drink. Not familiar with the beverage, we asked at the first stop, the Rob Roy to sample a little on its own. It was a complex, slightly floral flavor that drifted at the end to be extremely sweet on the finish. The Rob Roy played into the sweet aspect by pairing it with rye in the Rye Persuasion. The sweetness of the rye was pulled to the front and hit the tongue first, followed by the sweetness of the St. Germain. For me? Too much sweet. It was a simple cocktail and you could taste the flavors of the featured liquor, but the sweetness was overwhemling. The dark black decor of the place hinted to me we should have ended the crawl here instead of starting (we chose our own order), but I did appreciate that they lightened it up with the bright orange of the goldfish crackers on the bar.
Next we sauntered down to the Flying Fish. Making a poor first impression on me, the scent of the place smelled like fish. I appreciate that they’re doing seafood here, but I don’t want my fancy restaurant to smell like the fishmonger’s, you know? The bartender set us up with our St. Elder’s Fire, which I greatly enjoyed as a cocktail. I love spicy food and drink, so I was pleased with the spice, but shocked that they were so comfortable serving this to the masses and with no warning–he asked as how tart we would like ours, turns out the chiles are marinated in the lime juice. We asked for them as they should be, and it was hot. No mention of the heat before drinking. The flavors were good, headed by the tequila, dragging along the lime and chile and finishing with the refreshing cucumber that garnishes it. What’s missing? That’s right, Iron Chef Reader, I couldn’t but barely detect the St. Germain in this drink.
Next up was Brasa, the only of the four bars I’d spent a significant amount of time in. By which I mean I once ate a meal here a few months ago. Misu, the adorable bartender totally remembered me, as any great bartender would, and introduced us to her sister Minon, inventor of their drink. Made with gin and muscato, it played heavily to the sweet side again, with little balance or palate relief for the drinker. Citrus was present, unfortunately, only in candied form as the garnish. Now, I will say the orange slice candy on the rim was darn delicious, but I wish there would have been a squeeze of the orange in my drink to pick it up a little.
Lastly we came up to Cafe Campagne, which was fairly packed, making the service a little less attentive, so I didn’t catch either a name or all the ingredients (okay, maybe it was because I was 3 cocktails in, too), however the drink was visually stunning, with a basil stuffed grapefruit on the edge and the basil matching the vivid green of the drink. The drink used grapefruit which I thought was a great match for the sweet yet floral flavors of the St. Germain, and the basil flavor helped out too. The cocktail involved Champagne, which I think helped to alleviate the cloying sweetness on the finish that plagued the other drinks. I then abandoned drinking to dive into the oddly addicting yet frighteningly greasy Marcona Almonds they kept on the bar.
Oh, what, sorry, you wanted to know about the cocktail crawl? Overall I thought it was a great idea, I chose the final cocktail because I enjoyed the skill involved in playing so well with the chosen St. Germain, while the cocktail I may have liked best was the St. Elder’s Fire. But they kind of cheated by completely covering up the flavor, in my opinion.
As the recession continues, I am excited to see what other really good ideas restaurateurs can come up with to draw in more people on slow nights. If they’re as good as this one, you’ll be certain to find me there.