Thursday, February 18, 2010

Old-Timers Night: An Old-Fashioned Experience at PDT

Eben Freeman rolled back into town for a few events with his Cocktail All-Stars last week, and after reading about them here I was able to snag a spot at the third event last Wednesday, described thusly:
Wednesday, February 10th carries on with old-school sipping and stirring with Old-Timers Night: An Old-Fashioned Experience at PDT, voted World's Best Cocktail Bar 2010. The event features only bartenders over 40 and some stringent rules to ease the pain on the more ‘experienced’ gents holding the bar spoons last night: no drink is allowed to have anything more than a sweetener, a base spirit, and one flavoring agent. The spotlight will be on brown, aged, high-end booze – expect lots of stirring, sipping, and stories. All-Stars include: author Gary Regan, Eben Freeman, writer and scholar Dave Wondrich, ‘King Cocktail’ Dale DeGroff, James Menite of Porterhouse, author/barman Toby Cecchini, and more to come.....
I also tried to get into Monday's event at The Monday Room, but acted not quickly enough, but you can read about it here.  That blog also has a write up of Tuesday's event, but I have not seen a recap of the one we went to, so I'm stepping up to the plate.

The event was on the night of a blizzard, and I was worried it would be cancelled, but I received notice that is was on, with only a slight change in the lineup for those that couldn't make it:
All-stars Gary Regan and Dale DeGroff aren't able to join, unfortunately, as they currently don't reside in the city and can't get out of their driveways. We do however, have legendary Mr. Hidetsugu Ueno who has flown in from Tokyo's Bar High Five on deck this eve in their place!
We were treated to a neat ice carving demo by Mr. Hidetsugu Ueno as well, there is a better description and way better pics than I'd produce in the post about the event of the previous night, if you are curious.

The event was from 6-10, and every 20 min a new barkeep jumped behind the stick to make the next drink for the 30 odd attendants.  Luckily dogs and tots were available to keep us going.  Here, in order, are my woefully incomplete notes on the drinks I tapped into my iPhone while tippling.  I think I got most of the drinks right, but did a particularity awful job about noting the creator for most of the drinks, my apologies.
  • Applejack, cane syrup, abbots bitters, twist
  • Ron Zacapa Solera 23 Rum, Ginger fig simple syrup, Whisky Barrel Aged bitters, cherry garnish
  • Hudson Baby Bourbon, brown sugar syrup, absinthe bitters, lemon twist
(the Hudson distillery owner was present and we chatted with him for a while)
  • Somba mezcal, Don Julio reposado tequila, brown sugar syrup, truffle oil, flamed orange twist
  • Carpano Antica, bullit bourbon, muddled citrus peels, cherry garnish
Mr. Hidetsugu Ueno:
  • Green tea syrup, single malt sccotch, honey
(Japanese Garden Cocktail, apparently made also from Monday)

Eben Freeman:
  • Aged Cachaça, baked apple bitters, demerra sugar cube, splash club soda to dissolve
Dave Wondrich:
  • Bols genever, gum arabic, Aromatic bitters, Lemon peel (shaken)
Toby Cecchini, "I made the drink I'd hate for someone to give me":
  • Buffalo Trace White Dog Mash # 1, Death's Door White Whisky, Underberg,  spiced simple syrup, orange and lemon slice (rolled to mix)
  • Black tea infused 15 yr rum, molasses, Christmas bitters, orange twist
  • Rye, cognac, calvados, Cointreau, bitters, twis
  • Don Julio anejo tequila, ango orange bitters, sherry, orange zest
As you can guess, quite a fun night.  There was not a loser in the bunch, and although I somewhat preferred some to others, I couldn't call a winner.  Perhaps the most interesting ones to me were Toby's, Eben's, and the one with Christmas bitters, because they all used ingredients that were new to me.  The Baked Apple Bitters were quite apparent and nicely identifiable.  The Christmas Bitters were just plain fun.  And the two moonshines in Toby's drink were both new to me, in fact I had never before tried any unaged Whisky.  The White Dog in particular smelled very strongly of fresh sweet corn which surprised me when I took a whiff from a spent bottle.  It was no fun to wake up at 5 am to catch our flight out to the Yucatán, however.

UPDATE: Sonya put up a post with some pics from the night and a bit more detail on some of the bartenders pouring drinks.

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