A Hidden Spot Worth Finding
I recently went on a first date with someone from OKCupid. According to the site's algorithm, we were already a strong match at 95%. We also texted back and forth. Overall, I had a positive vibe going into the date. Although I try to temper my expectations, it is exciting when you're meeting someone new and have a good gut feeling.
My initial impression was further confirmed when he suggested three awesome cocktail places to meet. I had just gone to one of the places (Analogue) and was intrigued by the quality of his other two choices. I hadn't even heard of The Skylark (a three level cocktail bar with impressive views of the city)! I decided to go with The Experimental Cocktail Club (http://www.experimentalcocktailclubny.com/). I heard many great things about this lounge and wanted to experience it first hand. Not only did he bring one good idea to the table, he brought three! I was delighted!
As I mentioned in my earlier post, I arrived about 30 minutes early. I met up with him at 7pm and we went into the bar. I was pleased as he was even cuter than his photos which were already very cute! (Side Note: Be forewarned if you come here that it is hard to find! There is no signage outside. There is a black awning and the windows have curtains covering them. Just watch the street numbers and you'll find it!)
Since we got there exactly when they opened, we cozied up at the bar so we could chat with the bartender. I knew the cocktail menu was impressive so I wanted to be able to ask questions and watch him make our drinks. I started with Dabam's Flip. It is made with Plantation Barbados 5 Rum, Sweetened Thai Ice Tea, Condensed Milk, Whole Egg, Angostura Bitter and Pernod Absinthe. I'm typically not a huge Absinthe person but the bartender assured me that it only complemented the cocktail and wasn't overbearing.
I LOVED THIS! If you've ever had a Thai Ice Tea, it tasted exactly like that but better! The addition of the alcohol tempered the sweetness of the tea and condensed milk. Yum! My date ordered the Take (pronounced "Tah-Cay") Is Going Back to Japan. It is made with Shitake Mushroom Infused Great King Street Scotch, Cocoa Nibs Infused Maple Syrup, El Maestro Pedro Ximenez Sherry and Black Walnut Bitters.
My date really liked his cocktail. I sampled it and it was good but not as much my cup of tea. Sometimes scotch is a bit too intense for me, especially if it is a smoky or peaty scotch. I don't have the taste appreciation for it! My date suggested that we order something to nibble on while we sip on our cocktails. He chose the cheese plate which turned out to be an awesome suggestion!
The plate came with three cheeses - two were softer (cannot recall the names) and one was a harder, sharp cheddar. I don't recall how much the cheese plate was and of course there is no menu online (I doubt it was over $20). Anyway, my point is that the quantity was HUGE! It was served with an orange marmalade, honey, slices of bread and grapes. SO TASTY. I'm so glad he ordered it - smart move!
For my next cocktail, I ordered the Jean Claude Pandan - amazing name, right? It is made with Pandan Infused Plantation 3 Star Rum, Batavia Arrak, Ceylon Tea Mix, Citrus, Coconut Water and Clarified Banana Juice. The drink is CLEAR because it is clarified. It looks like water but tastes like a tropical explosion.
I loved how it was served in a small bottle - it looked like I was prescribed this drink. I'm ok with that! My date ordered the Handsome Jack. It was made with Rittenhouse Rye, Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac, Byrrh Quinquina, Aperol, Chartreuse, Maple, Angosture and Peychaud's Bitters. He loved it! I sampled it and really like it too - I love Rye!
In the photo you may notice the other glass. Our bartender was very generous! We asked a lot of questions about the spirits on the back bar. He gave us several small samples of rare spirits; one was Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon. Another was Ron de Jeremy. You guess it! A rum that is affiliated with the infamous porn star Ron Jeremy. The tagline (my favorite): Long Smooth Taste! I just have no words.
I had a cocktail before I arrived at the bar, so I took a lap while my date ordered another. He asked our bartender to make whatever he felt like for him. The resulting cocktail is below!
My date really liked it! I think it was reminiscent of a Manhattan. I gave it a sip and approved! Next up, our bartender continued the trend of generosity when he offered both of us a complimentary round of his favorite cocktail: the Hay-Hay. It is made with Burnt Butter & Toasted Hay Infused Drouin Calvados, Sage, Lemon and Black Salt.
After our first sip, we could both see why this was a favorite of our bartender! It was a wonderfully balanced drink. Also, don't you love the glassware? The drinks we ordered were served in an array of glasses. Like my grandma always told me, it makes a difference! A red solo cup is not the same as cut crystal!
For our final round, we both asked the bartender to make whatever he wanted - we had implicit trust in him! I asked for a sweeter cocktail and my date asked for something Scotch based.
I loved my drink. I don't at all remember what was in it, so I cannot provide further info. My date loved his too. CHECK OUT THAT GINGER GARNISH!
The trend continued - all the drinks were winners! Halfway through the night, someone started playing live music. The vibe was wonderful here. Ample seating, beautiful bathrooms and an incredible staff. I cannot wait to come back!