Saturday, May 29, 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.
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.

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.
Read the rest here.

1 comment:

rick allen said...

John, this is not a response to this post, but you may recall I had indicated in a previous post that I intended to visit an Orthodox Church (for the first time), and was looking for "pointers," and you requested, thereafter, that I let you know how it was. If you feel this reply is not of general interest to your readers you are free to delete it.

I attended a litergy at Holy Trinity Church in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a Church in the jurisdiction of Antioch. Feeling very self-conscious, I was greeted by a gentleman at the door, to whom I introduced myself, and he made me feel quite welcome.

The liturgy was indeed breathtakingly beautiful. The building I believe is less than ten years old, small, with a domed Greek-cross sanctuary. The continuous music and chant was quite lovely from start to finish, with a choir of about six leading a congregation of about sixty. The language was English, and there were young people and children and a few toddlers (who always liven things up).

For the honor of the Catholics I was determined to stand as long as the elderly ladies, and was successful, though one of the ushers at one point came over and told me with a smile I was quite welcome to sit in one of the numerous chairs. During the communion the gentleman who greeted me at the door brought me a portion of the unconsecrated bread, which I think a wonderful tradition to make non-Orthodox feel welcome without relaxing the Eucharist discipline.

Throughout the two hours there was never a prayer I felt I couldn't join wholeheartedly, and I was pleased to find myself becoming haltingly competent in some of the responses after the first hour, and rather less self-conscious about crossing myself Latin-style.

In short, I found it a good and genuine time of prayer, and I was glad to find that the beauty of the Orthodox liturgy, of which I had heard so often, was not exaggerated. As I said before, I have no intention of leaving my own Catholic faith, but I am glad to have had the opportunity to learn something about Orthodoxy beyond the books and blogs.