Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Cocktail Collective at Fourty Four at Royalton Hotel

Here at Law & Food we like to think that we're above the fray-- which is why we invariably decline almost every publicity event sitting in our inbox.  It's a useful illusion, but every once in awhile I have to get off my imaginary pedestal and accept an invitation that sounds interesting. Such was the case last week for a cocktail party at the Royalton Hotel on West 44th St.

I went for the cocktails, because honestly, who can pass up an opportunity to have two mixologists* pour you whatever drink you want, normally at fifteen bucks a pop, for two hours? I'm not that strong of a person. Most people aren't, and I can't compromise my so-called integrity for nothing.

Above I mentioned that it was "Law and Food" that broke our so-called ethical code. It was really me, I'm just trying to share some of the responsibility with Steve, who didn't (or wouldn't) go. Instead, I brought along our friend Joe, who enjoys drinking a well-made cocktail (as well as Firefly Vodka).

*Yes, I hate the term "mixologist," but there's gotta be a way to distinguish these guys from a 22-year-old girl pouring tequila shots at McFadden's.

Once we found the event, we planted ourselves at the bar and prepared for a few hours of serious drinking (and more eating than I anticipated).

Slices of Mangalica ham were followed by risotto balls spiked with parmesan and sage. Shrimp were the size of my thumb and forefinger, but unfortunately overcooked. The blood orange curry sauce was very good, however, with a sour hit and a welcoming amount of heat. If properly cooked, I'd definitely get these again (when accepting something free, I'm using the "would I actually pay for that?" metric).

All of these photos are courtesy of Julie Wolfson (thanks again).
Seared tuna was clearly high quality and tasted strongly of miso and garlic, but needed a touch of salt. Much better was the duck confit flatbread topped with brie and goat cheese.

Finally, a burger that was much less classy than its surroundings (in keeping with the times I guess), but still an immensely satisfying gut bomb. No crust and griddled in a legitimate amount of butter, the burger was complemented by the lettuce and mustard/mayo combo. These are filling. So, to combat our satiety, we ordered up some more cocktails.

Oh yeah, I haven't even mentioned the cocktails. Our two bartenders for the evening, pictured below, were: Richard Boccato (on the left) from Dutch Kills in Long Island City and Eric Alperin from The Varnish in LA. They're part of "The Cocktail Collective" which brings together talented bartenders from across the country to help with drink programs in various classy hotel bars. Think of them as a sort of Justice League of Drinking.

I knew I'd like Richard when I asked him to make me anything he liked. I got a Corpse Reviver #2, which is one of my favorite drinks around.

Joe and I asked Eric for cocktails made with rye-- we were not disappointed. My favorite by far was the "Vieux Carre," a drink invented in the 1930's in New Orleans. The menu description is: Rye whiskey, VSOP Cognac, Carpano Antica Formula with Angostura and Peychaud's bitters and a Benedictine rinse on the glass." Great drink, with a sharp, distinctive flavor. Joe really enjoyed "The Reconciliation," made with Rye whiskey, Amaro Lucano, house made orgeat (I won't pretend to know what that is, can someone tell me?) and a sambuca rinse on the glass. There was also a piece of star anise sitting in the glass. Good drink, but I liked the Vieux Carre better (Joe preferred the Reconciliation).

I used to live right near the Royalton, and almost certainly would have checked in for an occasional cocktail had I known about it (or had a job) earlier. The bar is huge, with certain areas much more hopping than others, so there's clearly something for everyone.

Still, I'd come back for the Vieux Carre alone (and will likely challenge a bartender-- I mean mixologist-- to make it for me elsewhere).

Regrets aside, I have a friend who usually stays on this block when in town for business. I'd certainly bring her here for a Vieux Carre (and maybe a burger, shrimp and other cocktails).

1 comment:

  1. Invitation accepted! I may be in town around December 14th, but if not I will definitely be there the week of January 10th. JSL