Thursday, March 20, 2008

cocktails and vegetarian food

March 20

Rarely have two parties held so closely together had such a similar crowd as the ones held at Tailor on Tuesday and The Bikini Bar on Wednesday. One was promoting a wine-based apéritif, the other promoting tiki rum cocktails. Jim Meehan was making cocktails at both of them. At Tailor Toby Cecchini of Passerby, Brian Miller of Death & Co. and host Eben Freeman were making drinks, too.
I started with Brian Miller’s drink.
“What are you shaking?” I asked him.
“I’m stirring a Fat Like Buddha,” he said, which had said apéritif, rum, benedictine, orange liqueur and an orange twist.
I do respect a mixologist who takes himself seriously.
Beverage, wine and food writer Jack Robertiello and I continued our ongoing discussion of which types of writers are the most insufferable. He has had horrible experiences with food writers, whom he has seen engaging in high-school like acts of cliqueyness and one-upsmanship (or one-upspersonship as most food writers are women). I contend that wine writers, as a general rule of course, are trapped farther up their own personal orifices than food writers, whom I find generally act in just the friendly, contented way that well-fed people with slight wine buzzes should behave.
But I still think travel writers are the worst.
We continue to agree that virtually everyone involved in the hard-liquor world is gracious and fun to spend time with.
I caught up with Darrell Hartman, which didn’t take long as I’ve seen him in the past couple of weeks, but I think I spent most of my time with James Oliver Cury and Jay Cheshes, who both exemplify how nice food writers are.
Come to think of it, I didn’t see James at the party the following night — although I definitely saw Jack, and I’m pretty sure I saw Jay — but I wasn’t there for very long. Bikini Bar is in Tribeca, and I took the E train to Chambers Street, a huge subway stop with many exits, and I selected the one farthest away from Bikini Bar. I still managed to get there just 15 minutes after the party had started, but that still just gave me 15 minutes before I had to trek to the opening party at Broadway East.
Still, that gave me enough time to sample a rum I hadn't tried before, drink Jim Meehan’s cocktail and chat with a couple representatives from a major Puerto Rico-based rum company (can you guess which one?).
I talked with them about rum and its potential for growth in the American market. Rum as we drink it here is generally light and sweet, and people think of it as festive. The proliferation of infused rums further brings it into competition with the United States' favorite spirit, vodka.
The guys seemed eager to point out the distinctions between rum and vodka, which I found interesting since if I were trying to sell alcohol in the United States, I’d try to underscore its similarities to vodka because, despite all the efforts of the country’s “mixologists” and “cocktailians” to promote gin, brown spirits and, well, anything but vodka, vodka remains king.
I wasn’t at the party long, but I’m afraid I did manage to hurt the feelings of a representative from the Distilled Spirits Council, which was throwing the party. He suggested we write a story about all the different safe-drinking programs the various liquor companies had (which of course they do), and even though I’d had only one drink, I told him that was a boring story, which was mean of me (but true).
So I felt bad about that as I left that party, passing Bon Appétit restaurant editor Andrew Knowlton on my way out, sorry we didn’t have a chance to catch up, as I hardly ever see him anymore and I enjoy his company.
So I had two things to regret as I walked to Broadway East, the new mostly vegetarian restaurant, where I was meeting my vegetarian friend Kenyon, for whom it is worth leaving a party.
Kenyon is not only a vegetarian but a straight-edge one, and yet I still enjoy his company. I think that’s quite a tribute to him (or maybe the fact that I think so means that I’m a narrow-minded schnook).
It was a star-studded party. Not only were Kenyon and I there, but so, I was told, was Tatum O’Neal, although I didn't see her. She’s supposedly dating the owner or something.
I did see Kristen Johnston, from Third Rock from the Sun. She definitely looks vegetarian.
So I drank Pinot Noir and ate tempura vegetables and tandoori tofu and non-meat sliders and whatnot, and Kenyon ate the same stuff (but not the mackerel) and introduced himself to the random beautiful women who walked by and introduced themselves to him first.
I asked if people frequently introduced themselves to him because he was hot (I get mistaken for Jason Alexander — especially in profile — he gets mistaken for Jared Leto).
“Is that why?” he asked and shrugged.
Kenyon’s best friend and ex-girlfriend was performing that night at a place on Avenue B that used to be called Club Midway but that now apparently is Rehab.
I bought a Guinness and then who did we see but a girl named Michael, whom you might recall from a couple of weeks ago.
We were early, so we hung out with the band and I felt very hip and insidery.
The bands, Saints & Lovers, Neimo, and The Go Station, were all a lot of fun — Saints & Lovers mostly for the bassist/lead singer’s great voice, Neimo for the lead singer’s stage presence, and The Go Station for the overall music and the lead singer’s doleful facial expressions.
Kenyon, in fact, left before The Go Station came on stage, but I figured I’d stick around, although I switched from Guinness to Bass.


Anonymous said...

Bret... one question regarding the aperitif party: Do You Dubonnet? (

Bret Thorn said...

Depends on who’s doing the stirring, Amanda, and remember, you can actually paste a link in these comments.