So in my previous post I got too sidetracked by the origins of the Sazerac to describe my Sazerac experience at Eat Street Social. Since we here at Vagabond Appetite are nothing if not desirous of an experiential analysis of a culinary or mixological (just made that one up) affair, I am going to devote this whole post to Eat Street Social and their delicious take on the Sazerac.
As I had previously mentioned in my previous post, I visited Eat Street Social after a long day of Art-A-Whirling last week and it was devilishly muggy outside. Let me mention first that this was my third attempt at going to ESS, the first two having been foiled by their complete lack of signage which I totally appreciate, but made it especially difficult to locate from the street. Despite this fact, they were packed, clearly others were much more astute than I.
One thing I like to see when I walk in the door of a new restaurant is a staff that is methodically hauling ass. Especially behind the bar, and ESS features a pretty incredible bar, the bartenders were obviously old hands at efficiently moving at top speed. To me this implies a healthy respect for the craft of bartending itself which is not only mixology, but also customer service, both from the tender's perspective and keeping the server well up to date.
The bar itself is enormous, taking up a good third of the front room, it dominates the initial view of the restaurant which must be on purpose. It's got about 25, 30 seats and at least 3 bartenders behind it, one of whom, from what I saw, only worked the craft well, which is pretty amazing.
As there were five of us, we snagged a booth on the north side of the barroom where we could see most of the action, but also had enough privacy from the high-backed booths that we didn't feel as though we were completely out in the open. The vibe was a wide-open take on Speakeasy Nouveau. Intimate but busy. Where nobody knows your name unless you want them to.
And the Sazerac. It diverges just barely from the classic recipe, replacing the sugar cube with fennel pollen syrup. I tend to shy away from using simple syrups in drinks that are not served on the rocks, it can thicken the drink to a point where it resembles, well, syrup. That combined with absinthe can give a Sazerac an almost Robitussin-y feel. I hope I don't need to explain to you that Robitussin-y should be avoided at all costs. However, as I had mentioned before, the guys at ESS are pros and they did not disappoint here. The drink was very well balanced, just a hint of anise, Bulleitt Rye, served extra cold.
They even went so far as to deliver half of the drink in a separate vessel so that it would remain cold while I drank the first half. Now that's thinking. My only gripe with the Fennel Pollen Sazerac lies in the name. If fennel pollen is going to be your opening drink descriptor, you'd imagine that there would be some kind of fennel flavor to the drink, or perhaps I don't know what fennel pollen tastes like. Unless it tastes like the other ingredients in a Sazerac, however, it wasn't able to make its presence known in my drink. What I had at Eat Street Social was a well made Sazerac without any bells and whistles, which suits me just fine.
Eat Street Social
18 W. 26th Street