Saturday, August 22, 2009

I'd Like An Umbrella In Mine, Please

I just want to let everybody know that I will be missing in action for a few days until I return back to NYC on Tuesday. I realize, however, that as I'm writing this tonight, the weather outside is FRIGID. Okay, so it's 57 degrees; there aren't icicles hanging from the roof. But this frosty weather reminds me that summer is not eternal, so we must utilize what's left of it to enjoy some frosty fun of our own.

It is my belief that New Yorkers have become too serious. We recently entered the too-cool-for-school phase of nightlife, where twisty straws have been traded in for lavender infusions. I'm all for St.-Germain elderflower liquer (believe me), but what happened to the glory days of colorful cocktails, cheesy serving glasses, and names that remind us of Jimmy Buffet songs? When did New Yorkers stop craving the feeling of their feet in the balmy sand; or relaxing on a beach chair, their hands catching droplets of precipitation from their sweating daiquiris or piƱa coladas? I haven’t. I still feel a shudder when a paper umbrella lands in my drink.

A dark ‘n stormy, a popular drink in the erstwhile era, is number one on my list of favorite cocktails. Not for the gingerly-hearted, a dark ‘n stormy is a simple but oh-so pungent mix of dark rum (traditionally with Gosling’s Black Seal), ginger beer, and a wedge of lime over ice. It should be on everyone’s top ten list, yet it has come to my attention that there’s so little attention paid to this British Commonwealth-born highball often served in a Tiki glass. (In my world, Tiki glasses would be a requirement.) My recent quest for a dark ‘n stormy took only my internet search far and wide. Among the unacceptably scant places that serve this Bermudian national drink are the Rusty Knot, Otto’s Shrunken Head, and Gotham Bar and Grill. The Rusty Knot (425 West St.; 10014) definitely wins the spirit award.

Of course, you can make a special request for a dark 'n stormy at any place you think carries the required ingredients (as I have at both Craftbar and Death & Co.), but this misses the point entirely. A dark 'n stormy deserves its own space on a menu. It deserves a rise to prominence. And it certainly does at the Rusty Knot. From the people who brought you Freeeman's, the Spotted Pig, and the drink menu at Milk & Honey, the Rusty Knot is deisgned as a kitschy version of your dad's rec room (although certainly not my dad's; if you know me, you understand)--faux fancy lamps, stuffed fish, pool table, jukebox, 70's kitchen-tiled floors: it's a faux lowbrow joint/faux dive bar that dive bar enthusiasts wouldn't dare enter, lest they unwittingly brush shoulders with the yuppies that patronize this abandoned ship.

But it's their dark 'n stormy that's got me hailing. Served very cold (which is key) in a tall Tiki glass, with an umbrella (thank you) and a mini plastic mermaid perched atop the rim of the glass, the supreme spiciness of the ginger will no doubt have bolts running through you. The Rusty Knot's version uses the traditional ingredients and it's the only kind of dark 'n stormy I EVER want to drink. After your first sip, you're transported to another place. The spiciness from the ginger beer lovingly rests in your throat. Your mood changes. You begin to hear waves crashing onto the sand. You look down, suddenly wondering why you're not wearing a bathing suit or reclining on a beach chair. You know this is where you want to be. You know this is where you NEED to be.

Drinks are made by a talented and extremely friendly crew (specifically a Mr. Jesse!). And do NOT forget to check out the mini-in-size but mega-in-taste snacks: the mini fish po boys and potato wedges are not to be missed, but it's the pretzel dog that leaves me thinking long after last call. I'm obsessed with it. It's like a gourmet version of pigs in a blanket: it's salty, and doughy, and smokey, and warm, and scrumptious! You'll be sad when it's finished. I'll let you discover it for yourself, but I'll say one thing: if you like City Bakery's pretzel croissants, you're going to love the pretzel dog.

So go shake things up and treat yourself to a dark 'n stormy. Or better yet, call me and I'll go with you!

Be happy and Carpe Diem!

No comments: