Traveling with alcohol enthusiasts
By Sam Ujvary
Earlier this week, I was in New York and wanted to explore my immediate surroundings. I made a friend escort me around the Lower East Side where I was staying and had minimal requirements: It had to be somewhere I've never been before (anywhere) and it had to be outside of the four walls at which I had been aimlessly gazing (also anywhere). He brought me to this little unadorned door on Eldridge Street that's as hidden as Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. Ring a buzzer and step behind the black velvet curtain—you've entered some sort of 1950s Film Noir haven. On the other side of a window that reads “Tailoring Alterations” is a quaint, dimly-lit speakeasy. If you've read our previous post on prohibition, you know my love of all things Capone, all things whiskey, and all things bootleg-inspired.
The unassuming, low-key lounge eliminated the decision-making process when they eradicated the menu. Instead, the bartenders design a beverage around your taste buds' current desire. If there's one thing I love, it's not making decisions. If there's one thing I love more, it's not making decisions and ending up with a perfectly crafted cocktail in front of me. This one, a glorious whiskey-strawberry-chocolate-bitters concoction hit the proverbial nail on the head. As I was sitting at the bar watching the bartender make off-the-cuff drinks for a heavy Monday night crowd, I thought, these guys really get it.The speakeasy and no-menu concepts may not be new, but they're not going anywhere either. In a city where hidden doors and underground gems are plentiful, if you really know what you're doing when you open a bar, most signs will still always point toward success. I don't know much about New York hotspots, but I know cocktails. And I couldn't be happier that the admiration for the craft is continuing to snowball so that alcohol education know-it-alls, ingredient aficionados and meticulous mixologists can continue to spread the love. For these liquid culinary masters—I'll be your craft guinea pig any day.