Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bryant Park Grill: 9.0

Because I lost my monthly train pass/Metrocard ticket mid-way through June resulting in an extra $160 in commuting costs on top of the $240 I already had spent, I forced myself to walk everywhere; not quite punishment, since I generally walk everywhere anyway, for the exercise. Except when it's 97 degrees and my destination is three-and-a-half miles away, the exercise definitely takes on punitive overtones.

My blue silk blouse was beginning to show small, darkened areas of perspiration across my chest after one block, but I needn't have worried; by the time I got to the Bryant Park Grill for a dinner date with my former boss Christine, the entire blouse was so sweat-soaked that it was all one color. I didn't have an elastic band to get my hair off my neck and tried to improvise something with the emergency dental floss in my messenger bag, but I couldn't make it work. My red face was I'm sure giving off steam. It was at the moment that I was frantically yet futilely trying to truss up my soaking wet mop in an effort to not spontaneously combust that a waiter walked over and asked me if I'd like to order something to drink.

Well yes. A pitcher of water and a cosmopolitan, made with gin. He didn't ask what kind of gin, and at that point I didn't care.

The water came first, and I drank four glasses in immediate succession. Then came the cosmo, and it was absolutely delicious. I could tell by the color (not too dark, the exact right shade of pink that it should be) that it was going to be a good one. The last few sips were not as good as the first, since the blazing heat took the chill off the drink in no time, but I can’t hold the bartender responsible for that.

The reason I didn't give it a perfect ten is that there was no garnish at all, plus it lost a few fractions of a point for the mouse or rat (I prefer to think it was a mouse) that was crawling up the wall behind us once it got dark out. Which is also not the bartender’s fault, but somebody’s gotta pay.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Taste Test: Cointreau wins, by 17%

On a spectacular Saturday afternoon, Barbara and I met on her porch for another in a series of taste tests to determine the necessary ingredients for the perfect cosmo. (Previous tests included gin vs. vodka; future tests, in addition to pitting brands of gin against each other may also include types of cranberry juice--I just noticed that Barbara uses "Light," and perhaps that makes a difference?--and orange peel vs. lime wedge, because on the Cointreau site there is an instructional video on how to make a cosmo, and they use an orange peel. I'm also thinking I'd like to try fresh lime juice vs. Rose's.)

The test for this day was Cointreau vs. its cheaper cousin, Triple Sec. We were hoping that maybe Triple Sec was as good as Cointreau after all, allowing us to save money on that ingredient, but the side-by-side comparison, which resulted in each of us with two Martini glasses in front of us, yielded the expected results: Cointreau makes for a better cosmo. More taste, more of a "kick," more of a "bite." Just better.

I did some research, and now I know why. As it turns out, "Triple Sec" is a type of liqueur made from orange peels and is generally 23% alcohol. Cointreau, a premium brand triple sec, has 40% alcohol content. So the drinks taste stronger because they are; hence the "kick."

Back to video mentioned above: the bartender in the video does something I don't do and Barbara doesn't do--in fact, I've never seen anyone do it. He pours all the ingredients into the shaker cap, not directly onto the ice in the shaker. Maybe this makes a difference?

I think another taste test is in order.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Some Background

This e-mail exchange via Blackberries explains more or less how and why this quest started:

May 21 Mary to Barbara:
I'm in a cop bar on Third and 19. I'll let you know how it rates. I'm
probably the first person to ever order a cosmo here

May 21 Barbara to Mary:
they might give you a summons...

May 21 Mary to Barbara:
It was a 10. Actually, a 9.5--I have to take a fraction of a point off
for presentation, which consisted of a twist of lemon instead of a
wedge of lime. But the drink itself was very well made, quite

(I wrote you a much longer email that seems to have totally vanished.
Or at least I have no record of it. But I'm not going to rewrite all
in case you did get it. Just more cosmo talk and cop talk.)

May 22 Barbara to Mary:
I never got the long e mail-
perhaps you should write a book.. "searching through the cosmos"
do tell...

May 22 Mary to Barbara:
I LOVE that idea, mostly because that is a great title! Actually, I
suppose if I had to rank the reasons why I love the idea, the clever
title would come after the fact that writing the book would require a
LOT of research. It's an article more than a book, I would say. And
the hook might be that I'm a middle-aged person very late to the "Sex and the City" party, which is true---I never saw it until it was on channel 11--and I'm very late to the cosmo party--also true, I never had one until I had one at your house not that long ago. It could be an article for More (you know that magazine for old broads like us?).
Another hook could be that as many women get older, they can't drink wine anymore. This isn't true of me (yet), but I have at least five friends I can think of, some of whom are younger than I though still in the More age group, who have given up wine for cocktails.

Barbara, you're on to something. I think we have a mission.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Here's How You Do It

Cosmopolitan Recipe:

1 1/2 ounce gin
3/4 ounce Cointreau
3/4 ounce Rose's lime juice
3/4 ounce cranberry juice

Shake in a shaker filled with ice, pour into a Martini glass, garnish with a wedge of lime.

How hard is that?

Yet why can't anyplace get it right?

Stay tuned for adventures in middle-aged drinking as I search the greater metropolitan area for a Cosmopolitan made right.