Sunday, June 27, 2010

Friday Five

The Excuse

I’m a bit disappointed this section has started to creep back in. But I just didn’t have a chance to finish this on Friday before my flight, and Karin and I went out right after I landed.

The Week

Ah, Manhattan.

Yes, this week found me in the city so nice they named it twice – New York, New York.

Usually when my travels take me out here I warn Karin that I’m going to want to move out here. New York has a special place in my heart; I love everything about it. The culture. The food. The atmosphere. Everything. And as this week comes to an end and I’m about to head to the airport, I can say this trip was no exception – I want to move to New York.

Before anyone begins panicking and thinking we’re leaving San Diego, we’re not. I couldn’t convince Karin to move to New York if I tried. And, honestly, I don’t know that I truly want to move out here. I think in the end moving to New York for me is probably one of those wishes that’s best left unfulfilled. I can see myself getting tired of the constant stimulation you get when walking outside after a couple years. The weather would probably drain me.

But still, I want to move to New York.

As is usual for my trips to New York, I was able to see friends and family. I was able to get together for dinner with Megan and David, old San Diego friends who returned to New York. My Aunt Mary also invited me to an opening at a museum celebrating the 150th anniversary of a Japanese delegation arriving in New York City.

It was a great week.

And yes, I want to move to New York.

The Restaurant Cocktail Lounge

Despite being in New York I really didn’t do a lot of fine dining. Oddly enough, the opportunity just didn’t present itself. But what did present itself was an opportunity to visit one of my favorite cocktail bars, The Pegu Club.

I don’t think I need to cover (yet again) my love of a good cocktail nor a good cocktail lounge. The Pegu Club is the picture of the latter, and they make the former flawlessly. You can walk past the entrance to the place without realizing it[1]; there is a very classy sign on the door and little else denoting the place’s location. The main seating area is all low tables and comfortable couches and chairs – the perfect place to relax with a good group of friends or cozy up with that certain someone. They do have a cocktail menu, but really – why? One of the signs of a good cocktail lounge is the ability to have a conversation with the bartender and ask him for what he’d recommend. After all, you’re at a good cocktail bar because you want a good cocktail made by a skilled mixologist. Let the man do his work.

IMG_8177 Regardless of the cocktail lounge my first drink is always a manhattan.[2] Not only do I love manhattans, it just gives me a good base to establish the level of cocktail I should expect. When it comes to the classic manhattan, this is the best I’ve ever had. First, the entire experience in crafting[3] the manhattan at the Pegu Club is something to behold. The bartender starts with an empty glass and adds to this (in order) bitters, 100 proof Rittenhouse rye whiskey, and sweet vermouth. He then takes three ice cubes, cracking each one in half[4], and adds them to the glass. Three more whole cubes are added before stirring vigorously. Now it’s time to turn his attention to the presentation, which involves a small bowl with crushed ice and a hole for a small carafe. Half of the drink is poured into a chilled cocktail glass, while the remainder is poured into the carafe. The garnish is, of course, cherries soaked in (I believe) brandy.

Believe it or not, there is a reason behind everything that’s done. First, the Rittenhouse 100 proof rye cuts through the vermouth and bitters more than a normal bourbon. I’ve mentioned before the reason that I like a manhattan rather than just a straight bourbon is the manhattan rounds off the edge of the bourbon. The rye leaves enough of a roughness to the drink that you know you’re enjoying something made with a whiskey, but not so much that it kills your palate. The ice cubes are cracked to encourage some melting. Cocktails such as a martini and manhattan should be about 20% water. The carafe for the “angel’s share”[5] is so you can enjoy the entire drink while it’s as cold as possible. If the remainder was left on ice the ice would melt and thus water down the drink.

The result – the best regular manhattan I’ve ever had.

The Travel Note

I generally don’t like bragging about the upgraded experience, but this week I was upgraded both to and from Newark, which is rare. The breakfast in first class on the flight out involved cinnamon roll french toast, and the flight back was a four course meal including shrimp cocktail and a sundae bar. That is a civilized way to fly.

The Five

Not feeling very creative this week, so I went back to the Friday Five site with the questions and found this:

  1. When is your usual bedtime?
    I usually crawl into bed around 10p, although I frequently watch a little TV or check Facebook before going to sleep.
  2. How many hours of sleep do you need?
    7-8 works just fine.
  3. Do you usually remember your dreams?
    It depends on the dreams. I often have rather lucid dreams that I do remember and frequently have a hard time deciding if it was real or not.
  4. How many pillows do you sleep with?
    At home just one; I love my pillow at home. In a hotel room I usually need two because they’re rarely firm enough for me.
  5. What is the wildest dream you’ve ever had?
    No comment.

[1] In fact, when Abram and I first visited the location we did exactly that.
[2] I’ve become so predictable that I had someone ordering for me within 3 days of meeting me.
[3] You’ve read the description. Yes, crafting is the right word.
[4] One of the signs of a great cocktail bar is large ice cubes. Large ice cubes melt slower and allow you to enjoy cocktails served on the rocks longer.
[5] I don’t know that it’s actually called the angel’s share, but it should be.

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