it's okay to play with your food

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Chapter 3: Making SPEC Proud

As some of you may recall, I belong to a cocktail club back home, SPEC. At one of our "meetings," we had Sazeracs, a New Orleans classic. Honestly, I wasn't a big fan, but was set on having one in its native home.

As luck would have it, Andy Vaught has a friend who bartends at Luke. Luke was a runner-up in the NYT article on important new U.S. restaurants. And our new friend Blake promised us a Sazerac worth remembering.

An absinthe coated glass. Sazerac rye whiskey. Peychaud bitters. A spritz from lemon zest. A curled lemon rind. I drank it fast, not because I wanted to finish it, but because it was one of the smoothest, tastiest cocktails I've ever had.

Then I revealed to Blake my favorite cocktail in the world. The French 75. Instead of gin, he mixes champagne with brandy, adding a brandied cherry that beautifully sinks to the bottom of the glass. It was a bit heavier than the gin-based version, though very good.

And of course, Daniel and I had to have mint juleps while we were down south. And the place to do it was Columns, a beautiful old hotel with a grand front porch, known as the setting for the Brooke Shields film, Pretty Baby.

The setting was lovely, as we watched the streetcar travel up and down St. Charles. And maybe we were just spoiled after our cocktail extravaganza at Luke, but the mint juleps were a bit light, almost watered down. I drank this one quickly as well... only because I wanted to move on to our final meal in town... crawfish mountain at Frankie and Johnny's.


SPEC was profiled in Philadelphia Weekly's Lush Life column a few weeks ago. The author, Mara Zapeda, learned about the club from kitchenplay.


Anonymous said...

Excellent post! And that's a cool article about SPEC. It makes me feel embarrassed that the one exposure I had to a Rufus 'n' Sarah party was one in which I arrived tired and looking decidedly un-fabulous. :)

When do you return to Philly?

kitchenplay said...

I'll be back the second week of june! glad you like the post!