Friday, October 12, 2012


Rhubarb Sophie from the Minetta Tavern

2 cucumber slices, plus 1 for garnish
2 oz 42Below vodka
1 oz agave nectar
1 oz lime juice
2 dashes rhubarb bitters (Fee Brothers is one brand)

First muddle the cucumber in a shaker glass, then add the remaining ingredients along with ice.

Shake vigorously for about 10 seconds and strain into an ice-filled glass.

Garnish with a slice of cucumber.

  On Tuesday night I met my friend Andrew Hildebrand, who was visiting from London, for dinner at the revived Minetta Tavern* on MacDougal Street in Manhattan.  Andrew, who had stopped in there for a cocktail a couple of nights earlier, recommended the Rhubarb Sophie pictured and described above.  It really was very, very good.  Apparently, many people have enjoyed the drink because it seems to be mentioned in all of the (pretty uniformly) positive notices and reviews the restaurant has received.

  It was marvelous seeing Andrew (I need to write to him today; our conversation stirred all sorts of ideas in me) and I enjoyed Minetta, although the experience was weirdly dislocating in significant ways.  Keith McNally's "updated bistro" model, which he has successfully employed many times before (e.g., Balthazar, Cafe Luxembourg, Pastis), always makes me feel as though I've stepped into Mr. Peabody's Way-Back Machine, something I don't feel the need to do because my memories of the past -- even my imagined memories which come to me in dreams -- are good enough for me.  In any event, the pied de porc pané I enjoyed at Minetta, although it was correctly prepared (with good Dijon mustard, lentils and an herb salad) and presented, couldn't hope to match the version served at the unpretentious and reasonably priced Café 58 in the happy past, and in terms of bottling and preserving fine values and present, permanent memories (if such things can be said to exist), there is still (and I hope will always be) Le Veau d'Or  on East 60th Street.

  The wine list, which we perused briefly, seemed ludicrously overpriced (no "square root of value" selections here; I ordered an interesting, but ludicrously overpriced beer and Andrew had another Rhubarb Sophie), but my main sensation of dislocation resulted from feeling I was among a riotous crowd of New Yorkers seemingly unconscious of the economic depression existing outside of their constricted, ultra-demarcated privileged view.  It's probably unfair, but from my vantage point, I felt like I was sitting on the uber-entitled, fat, happy and pig-eyed set of Morning Joe (a “rollicking” place, according to the New York Times; I guess that means “good”), or possibly at a Rachel Maddow (who seems to be the current generation's idea of Dorothy Parker -- weird!) salon imbibing Status Quo Kool-Aid.

  I suppose I shouldn't describe my dreams in public.

*  The name "Minetta," by the way, unique and esteemed in New York, is of ancient and unusual origin, deriving from the Dutch word Mintje Kill; ‘min’ means little, ‘kill’ means stream, literally translating into “Little Stream.”

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