Friday, February 25, 2011

Fatty Johnson's

Image by Jori Jane Emde
After our stop at Vandaag, it was off to see noted barkeeps and buddies Brian Miller and Phil Ward at Fatty Johnson's, Zak Pelaccio's short term pop-up bar in the old Cabrito space (50 Carmine St between Bedford and Bleecker St, 212-929-5050).

That evening Miller and Ward were presenting old favorites from their Death & Company days. The menu included:

SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY by Brian Miller (as contributed to

1.5 oz (45 ml) Tanqueray No. 10 Gin
1 oz (30 ml) Chablis wine
.5 oz (15 ml) Cinnamon Syrup*
Fill a mixing glass with ice and add all the ingredients. Stir, and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

*Cinnamon Syrup
2 to 3 Cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
5 oz (150 ml) Sugar
5 oz (150 ml) Water
Add all the ingredients to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low and simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for at least six hours. Strain, and store in the refrigerator.

OAXACA OLD FASHIONED by Phil Ward (serious eats)

1 1/2 ounces (45 ml) reposado tequila (El Tesoro recommended)
1/2 ounce (15 ml)  mezcal (Los Amantes Joven recommended)
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1 to 2 dashes Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters (substitute Angostura)
Wide swath of orange zest, for garnish

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir to chill, then strain into an ice-filled Old Fashioned glass. Twist orange peel over drink and use as garnish (for extra flavor and excitement, flame the peel by spraying the orange oil through the flame of a lit match and on top of the drink)

CHOCOLATE MARTICA by Phil Ward (Bitterman's)

1 oz (30 ml) Appleton V/X Rum
1 oz (30 ml) Cognac (Courvoisier VS)
1 oz (30 ml) Carpano Antica
1/4 oz (7.5 ml) Luxardo Maraschino
2 dashes Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters

Stirred and served up in a cocktail glass.

THE CONFERENCE by Brian Miller (Bitterman's)
A play on the Old Fashioned by Brian Miller at Death and Company, 2007. It’s one of those drinks that evolves as the ice slowly melts into the cocktail.

1/4 oz (7.5 ml) Demerara Sugar Syrup
1/2 oz (15 ml) Rittenhouse Bonded Rye (100 Proof)
1/2 oz (15 ml) Buffalo Trace Bourbon
1/2 oz (15 ml) Cognac
1/2 oz (15 ml) Calvados
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 dash Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters
Orange Twist (wide)
Lemon Twist (wide)

Stir all the ingredients aside from the twists in an ice filled shaker glass. Strain into a double old fashioned glass over ice. Add orange and lemon twists.

MONONGAHELA  MULE by Phil Ward | Old Overholt Rye, Lemon Juice, Ginger Syrup, Mint, Raspberries, Club Soda

THE BLACK MARKET MANHATTAN by Brian Miller (looka)

2 ounces (60 ml) Bernheim Wheat Whiskey.
1 ounce (30 ml) Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth infused with Market Spice Tea*
1 dash Angostura Bitters.

Stir ingredients and strain into a coupe. No garnish.

*For the Market Spice Tea-infused sweet vermouth: Place four heaping tablespoons of tea to 1 bottle Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth. Let it sit for an hour to an hour an a half, then strain and refrigerate.

GANNT'S TOMB by Brian Miller | Gosling’s Dark Rum, Rittenhouse Rye, Lemon Hart 151 Proof Demerera Rum, Pineapple Juice, Orange Juice, Simple Syrup, St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram

BITTER FRENCH by Phil Ward (educated guess )

1 ounce (30 ml) Plymouth gin
1/2 ounce (15 ml) simple syrup
1/2 ounce (15 ml) lemon juice
1/4 ounce Campari
Chilled sparkling wine, preferably champagne
Twist of lemon peel, for garnish

A chance to meet Brian Miller and that other guy, wow! It was a must-do on the list for this trip, and disappointed I was not. Sorry Phil...I've never met you, but your reputation proceeds you. You do have a gift for mixing drinks and I must admit to being a fan of several of your recipes. The attitude though, not so much.

Which is why I asked Brain to make me my first "D&C" Oaxaca Old Fashioned, which he did very happily and of course extremely well. I didn't get a chance to talk to Brian much, but this was not exactly happy hour either.  The place was hopping and the crowd was thirsty. So better yet, I was able to get a seat at the bar in front of his work station and watch him in action.

Brian and Phil worked madly away that night with the speed and ease of bartenders working a big crowd with nothing more demanding than a seven bottle speed well and a soda gun. Rather than churning out mix-mashed garbage by the bucket loads however, the fruit of their labor was of the highest quality.

A true feat considering that though the bottle selection at Fatty's would be good for most bars you run into, its limited at best compared to the top spots in the city. (The exception being Milk and Honey, where they make some of the very best drinks in the city with an amazingly limited selection of ingredients).

Those working the space are often making the best approximations they can with the ingredients available, but that's part of the fun too. You get to see these guys improvise and try something new, possibly (but not likely) even better!

As a follow-up I asked Brian for something dark and stirred with rye and amaro, a classic D&C style cocktail. He produced riff on the Boulevarder with rye, campari, martini & rosso vermouth and honestly, I cannot read my own notes to tell you which amaro he used.

I do remember liking it quite a bit, but this was stop #4 of the night, and my handwriting and memory became fuzzy at this point. Warm and fuzzy, and we'll leave it at that. This was a fun and unexpected treat as it was announced long after my travel plans were made, and I was glad to be able to add it to the itinerary.

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