My mother had eyes in the back of her head; Doug Quinn must have them in the palms of his hands. How else to explain the way he muddled mint for a mojito — and went on to make the rest of the cocktail — while glancing alternately at the door to see if anyone new was coming in, at the far end of the bar to see if anyone was telegraphing thirst, and at the guy in front of him, who was babbling anew about something or other? Not once did Mr. Quinn look down at the drink. It was like bartending in Braille.Read the rest here.
He filled beer mugs without watching what he was doing. He could apparently tell, by the weight of them, when to stop. He plucked bottles from their perches without pausing to check labels. He apparently had, in his head, the whole liquor layout at P.J. Clarke’s, on the East Side.
And he remembered what my companion and I were drinking, even though we had ordered just one round so far, and there were at least 35 people clumped around the bar on this early May night, and he was dealing — alone — with all the tickets from all the servers in the adjacent dining rooms, and he wasn’t writing anything down, not that I could see.
“Another?” was all he asked, and a half minute later I had a Hendrick’s gin martini, up, with olives and jagged little floes of ice, just like the martini before it. My companion was sipping a second Manhattan with rye, not bourbon, per his initial request. Mr. Quinn works quickly, and he works without error.
It is legend, this efficiency of his. I learned of it one night at PDT, a faux speakeasy in the East Village — secret entrance, abundant taxidermy — that’s about as far in spirit (and spirits) from the blunt, timeless rough-and-tumble of P. J. Clarke’s as you can get. I asked Jim Meehan, the cocktail shaman there, whom he and other celebrated young mixologists of the moment looked up to.
Friday, May 28, 2010
I gotta get back to New York
I've been gone for too long and am starting to feel the yin for a trip back East.