Saturday, February 28, 2009

What We're Drinking: The Bensonhurst - There goes the neighborhood...

by Fredo

I could write a whole article about the Brooklyn Cocktail and its' neighborhood cuginos like the Greenpoint and Carroll Gardens, but TimeOutNY beat me to it. Instead, I will suggest you order one of my new favorite cocktails that was also mentioned in the article, it is known as The Bensonhurst.

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in my usual seat, F14, at Clover Club, contemplating whether to order amaro or rye. I thought, why not get the best of both worlds and asked Giuseppe to give me an Italian version of a perfect Manhattan. He gave me a wink and went into action. The Rittenhouse 100 came out, so did the maraschino, I saw the Noilly Prat dry vermouth float into a 1 ounce jigger, and then my eyes lit up - G was reaching for the bottle of Cynar, the artichoke derived amaro.

The end product was a sublime cocktail served up in a frosted Nick and Nora cocktail glass, plus dividend on the side. The amaro and the maraschino compliment the 100 proof rye and make the drink smooth and velvety. The dry vermouth cuts the sweetness and give the drink a light maroon color. No need to garnish with citrus or add bitters.

The Bensonhurst
2oz Rittenhouse Rye (100 proof)
1oz Noilly Pratt dry vermouth
2 tsp of Luxardo Maraschino
1 tsp of Cynar

Combine over ice, stir, and strain into a Nick and Nora or Coupe glass.

Now it may be some time before Bensonhurst bartenders serving modern day Ralph Kramdens their shot and a beer catch on to this drink, so until then check out your local quality cocktail bar closer to Manhattan. You know where to go. Salute!

Friday, February 20, 2009


The Senator Announces Birth of Son on President’s Day; Asks, ‘We’re done, right?’

(Overland Park, KS) – Standing before a banner which read “Mission Accomplished,” dressed in surgeon’s scrubs, former Greenwich Village lounger and big band singer the Senator declared victory to throngs of adoring birthing ward employees on the top parking deck of Kansas City’s Menorah Memorial Hospital.

Joseph Lewis beat Fredo and Alli’s
twin girls to the bar.

Speaking in short cadence with a pronounced, folksy Texas drawl, Senator declared, “In the birth of my son, America and my wife Shiny Object have prevailed.”

Joseph Lewis was born at 3:00 pm on Monday, February 16. He weighed in at 7.4 ounces, and measured 19.3 inches long. Although he struggled to breathe immediately after birth, he was soon healthy and doctors declared major birthing operations over moments later.

Senator noted that the important victory took place only after 40 hours of dedicated labor.

“Birthin’ babies is hard work. It takes courage to break the umbilical cord of oppression and fight for freedom,” Senator said, referring to the process as “cervixilization.”

He praised most of Menorah’s staff for their dedication, calling them “fine Jewish doctors and stewardesses [sic].”

“You provided us with four star services,” Senator said. “The abundance of bacon we ordered and received from room service was particularly welcome.”

He did have harsh words for two late night nurses, whom he referred to as “freedom haters” and “an axis of evil” who would not let him leave a bottle of Sambuca near the coffee machine in the “Family Nourishment Room,” citing strict interpretations of fundamentalist health law. Senator also decried having to drink champagne from Styrofoam cups, calling the facility’s supply purchasing staff a “hostile regime.”

Critics fired back at the Senator, saying the “mission accomplished” banner was premature, pointing out that he had no viable plans to leave the hospital and had even ordered an in room massage and a better day bed from hospital staff. Even Joe Lewis received criticism for failing to agree on a timetable of withdrawal from his mother’s womb. “Healthcare costs are astronomical,” one intern remarked. “Every hour spent in labor is a drag on the hospital’s overall economy.”

The criticism was “hogwash,” Senator said, saying that the citizens of the world would greet Joe Lewis with “champagne and biscuits” and clear a liberator’s path from the hospital to their home after his family enjoyed “a mid-afternoon cocktail and a long nap.” That plan was “shortsighted,” said one nurse, because Senator had lost his contact lenses and he would have to wait for his mother-in-law to drive them home.

Also, in a memo uncovered by Dan Rather and CBS news, it was alleged that Senator wore Brooks Brother’s pajamas instead of the implied surgical scrubs worn at the press conference and never once “looked south” during the process of delivery. The memo also said that Senator went AWOL later that night and was spotted drinking a Martini at the famed Bristol Restaurant across the road before returning later that night smelling of blue cheese stuffed olives and Purel, supplying the aforementioned champagne and biscuits himself. Senator neither confirmed nor denied the rumor.

Later that night, speaking from his home bar, “Red Room West,” the Senator tried to put his best spin on the matter, pointing out that Joe Lewis was born on President’s Day – a harbinger of great things to come.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” Senator said, lifting the baby lounger and smelling his backside momentarily before handing him off to his wife, “A change is coming to ‘Merica.”

Senator pushed President Obama to add a “Champagne and Biscuits for America’s Birthing Centers” provision to the stimulus package, only to see it cut from the bill’s final draft.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Barfly's Beat: Macao Trading Company

Macao Trading Company, the new joint venture from the fellas behind Employees Only and Chanterelle's David Waltuck is an ambitious bar/restaurant which features Portuguese-Chinese cuisine, top shelf original cocktails, and a vintage decor that is reminiscent of "mid-1940s Red Lantern district." The Tribeca location is non-descript from the street. One passes through industrial iron grated doors which are only illuminated by a red light and into a jovial atmosphere. The restaurant is buzzing and if a bar seat is available, get it - like the seats at Employees Only, they are considered real estate.

The menu is dividend into Large Dishes and Small Dishes and combines Portuguese and Chinese influence found in the ex Portuguese colony of Macao. All the choices are served two ways - Portuguese or Chinese - which is a relief because we are a little sick of "fusion." If eating at the bar, try the small plates and sample the entire menu. We started with Manila clams Portuguese style with chorizo, then we ordered the Portuguese lamb meatballs, which are stuffed with cheese and served in a spicy paprika sauce. Their Chinese counter parts are pork meatballs which are rolled in sticky rice, and steamed are worth a second order. Then it was a warm chorizo and melon salad and lobster dumplings...need I say more? For more on the menu check out the review on Eater.

Now for the Cocktails. The team behind the bar are veterans from Employees Only, Pravda,Schillors, and other top bars. Jason Kosmas, Igor Hadzismajlovic, and Dushan Zaric lead the crew and their experience comes through in the original creations and takes on classic cocktails. There are about a dozen specialty cocktails on the menu but we enjoyed these five the most:

Drunken Dragon's Milk is one of the signature cocktails. The drink combines Charbay Green Tea Vodka shaken with Young Coconut Puree, Thai Basil & Macao Five-Spice Bitters, served in a Collins glass.

Yellow Fever is a rye sour given the royal treatment. It consists of 100 proof Rittenhouse Rye, Benedictine, Lemon Juice & Egg White, shaken and layered over the mixologist ingredient of the moment, Cherry Heering. This concoction releases a medley of flavors from sweet to tart but goes down smooth and leaves you wanting more.

Kaffir Jimlet is a cocktail of Kaffir Lime-infused Plymouth Gin mixed with Lime Juice & Agave Nectar, served straight up. The Kaffir lime is a staple in Southeast Asian cuisine and is infusion with Plymouth gin and addition of sweet agave nectar creates a sublime version of the gin gimlet.

The Mah-Johng is a reinvented Rob Roy made with J & B Rare Scotch stirred with Navan Vanilla Liqueur, Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth & Macao Five-Spice Bitters. Generally, I am not a fan of Vanillas or other sweet liqueurs being added to traditional cocktails. However, the vanilla is so subtle and compliments the five-spice bitters without overwhelming the scotch.

The Arrack Fizz consists of Batavia Arrack shaken with Mandarin Blossom Water, Homemade Hibiscus Cordial, Pineapple Juice, and an Egg White, served in a tall glass. I recognized this drink from EO. See Jason tested the drink on me on several occasions. I gave feedback, he tweaked it, I drank more, gave feedback, he added ingredients, changed proportions, and the finished product is on the Macao menu.

Oh and I kept the best for last. Macao Trading also has a "speakeasy" lounge downstairs. The space consists of semi private booths and a small bar manned by quality bartenders. If you want a bar seat get there unfashionably early, say 8:30, or really late. Once the clock hits 9pm, the downstairs gets a door man and the line that comes with him. So get that prime real estate early and settle in for outstanding cocktails, superb bar food, and a chill scene.

- Fredo

Macao Trading Co.
311 Church St, New York 10013
(Btw Walker & Lispenard St)

(Photo of the Mah-Jong Cocktail)