I have friend in town who is a world renowned mixologist. She is big time. She has been on The Today Show, Martha Stewart and was even a judge on Iron Chef. Major enough for you? Uh huh. She writes books too. Check ’em out. We used to work at Houlihan’s together and she parlayed her bartending job into a whole exciting career that takes her around the country. I parlayed my Houlihan’s career into sitting at a computer and complaining. Anyhoo, Kim was in town and she took me out last night. Unlike me, she knows where the cool, hip, trendy, in-the-know spots are so I hopped onto her coattails and away we went.
Have you ever heard of those speakeasy bars that are all the rage? Here in New York City, I have heard about them but never been to one. They don’t advertise and you have to know where it is and how to get in. Of course Kim knew where one was and how to get into it. Imagine, if you will, that we are two secret agents who are in desperate need of a cocktail, but it’s prohibition so all the bars are in secret hideaways. Kim led the way and I stayed close to her heels. When we got to the corner of So-and So and What’s-it Called, she pulled out her phone and made a call. “Do you have room for two people, the name’s Kim. Ten minutes? Thanks.” She hung up and looked around to make sure no one was listening to her conversation. “Can’t be too careful, you know?” I nodded. “You go that way and I’ll go this way and I’ll meet you on the other end of the block. If you sense that anyone is following you, abort. Do you hear me? Abort. You are to step into the nearest Starbuck’s and wait until you are sure the coast is clear. Now, go. GO!”
The anticipation was killing me. Was I really going to get into one of the city’s premier secret bars? “Kim?” I asked. “Will I be able to get an Apple Martini there?” Kim laughed at me and shook her head. “Bitchy, you will be able to get whatever you want, but please do not order an Apple Martini. I have a reputation to uphold.” She darted off into the traffic just missing being hit by a cab and flew down the street, her trench coat flapping in the wind. Moments later when we were reunited at the other end of the block, she made a gesture with her head that said “follow me.” We stepped into a hot dog restaurant. Dozens of twenty-somethings were crowded into booths and sipping sodas. Confused, I said, “This is it? I don’t get it.” Kim rolled her eyes at me and slid into a phone booth. I crammed in behind her. I felt like we were Maxwell Smart and Agent 99. She picked up the phone and pressed a button. “It’s Kim.” At that moment, the back wall of the phone booth slid open and we were ushered into a completely different room and environment. The phone booth wall slid back into place and we were in!
We were given two seats at the dimly lit bar and handed menus. The bartender was nattily dressed in a vest and tie and behind Kim was a huge stuffed grizzly bear that had seen better days. The menu of cocktails was like nothing I have ever seen. No Cosmopolitans or Mojitos in this place. The ingredients were all things I had never heard of. I chose something called a Shark because it had aged rum and blue curacao in it. It had other spices too and a couple of things I wasn’t sure about, but I trusted my bartender when he said, “You’ll love it.” I watched him make it with care. The liquor and fresh lemon juice was shaken for over a minute and then poured over crushed ice. To my delight, he garnished it with a lemon slice and a pink paper umbrella. It’s like he knew I was going to be there. It was heavenly. Kim’s drink was too. Don’t ask me what it was, because I was in a fog at this point. All I recall was that it had tequila and egg whites in it that came from a farm fresh brown egg and it was topped with a cardamom foam. I know. Crazy.
When the bill came, it just said “thank you” and it had their business card in it with a phone number. They comped our drinks, because Kim is that cool. She gave me the card. “Commit this phone number to memory and then burn the evidence. When you want to come here, just call them. You’re in now, Bitchy. You’re in” We went to the exit, pushed a button and the wall slid open. Seconds later we were back in the bright lights of the hot dog shop. I gave Kim a hug and she disappeared into the night. “Wow,” I thought. “I can’t believe I know her all because we worked at that shitty ass Houlihan’s.” What a great night.
And no, I am not going to tell you the name of the bar. Or the hot dog place.