Photos by Martha Cheng
In a cheeky nod to booze history, R&D hosted a one-night stand speakeasy on the 78th anniversary of Repeal Day. Fifty people of the bar industry and art crowd packed the new art and design bookstore, and after four "courses" of throwback cocktails by Dave Newman of Nobu and Kyle Reutner of Town, it was as festive as a Repeal Day should be. Though both are bar managers in their respective restaurants, they took this opportunity to showcase drinks "that people haven't really tried here," Newman says.
The first drink: a Ramos Gin Fizz, a tart concoction of lemon and lime juice and simple syrup, frothed with egg white and topped with soda water and a splash of orange flower water. "There's a nostalgic romance with the drink for me," Newman says. "When I first started bartending, the Ramos Fizz was the drink people would ask for to see if you knew how to bartend."
The second: a gin flight with a shot of Plymouth Gin straight up, a traditional martini, and a 50/50 (half vermouth and half gin), a comparative study aimed at showcasing how good a martini made with gin (NOT vodka) could be. Many people left the gin shot unfinished, but the 50/50 had a pleasant meatiness that left me wanting for a thick steak.
My favorite: the Whiskey a Cho-Cho, with Old Overholt Rye, Carpano Sweet Vermouth and Chocolate Essence, capturing all the smokey nuances of what makes whiskey great, with the sweetness of vermouth and chocolate smoothing out the alcoholic bite. It was a liquor-forward drink that didn't taste so. It was accompanied with a small plate of chocolate and sea salt; the pairing a wonderful "dessert" course.
The final drink: an Aromatic Collins that turns a cocktail upside on its head. Instead of using bitters as a finishing touch to another liquor, the booze in this drink is the bitters, which are 44.7% alcohol. Cut with stoned apricot simple syrup (syrup infused with apricot pits in addition to dried and fresh apricot), citrus and soda water, it tasted like a refreshing blood orange soda. Not to mention, with an ounce and a half of Angostura bitters, it acts as hangover prevention.
That, coupled with a bowl of chicken and egg pho by Andrew Le of The Pig and the Lady helped soak up the alcohol of the evening. Considering that I feel remarkably well today, I guess it worked.
R&D hopes to make this a monthly event. Follow @RnDHI for details on upcoming dates.