Employees Only, July 9, 2005

Employees Only
510 Hudson Street

After a long day and night of drinking with Danna's coworkers, we were back at it again, this time at Employees Only for a supposedly quick round of drinks before huffing it to Jersey City for a house party. I know I know...let's not even delve into that one.

I was very excited about my first visit to EO, and the anticipation was handsomely rewarded. The speakeasy vibe, the charming outdoor garden, the comfortable bar stools and the engaging bartender staff (Igor and Akiva tonight) was just the start of a great evening.

Learning from my mistake the night earlier, I decided, well, Danna suggested, to get some food before the others arrived so that I don't have to run off in the middle of the night to sate my appetite. I ordered a half dozen oysters and a pear and endive salad with goat cheese crouton. The oysters, Kumomoto, were excellent and lacking any shards of shell, and were served with a strange, icy and relatively flavorless accompaniment. I tried them with the oysters but concluded that it didn't help. The endive salad was good, with my last bite being the best (rarely does that happen). Danna and I agreed that this was not something that would provide a great base for a night of drinking, so I ordered the steak tartare as well.

Akiva made this at the bar in front of me, asking how spicy I wanted it. I went for "pretty spicy" and was treated to the best tartare I've ever had, although, truth be told, its been years since I've had the dish. The crispy toast points it was served with were just the right amount, not too few, not too many, and acted as the perfect vehicle for the dining experience.

As you may have already heard, Employees Only is really about the drinks. And for good reason. These are not just bartenders. They are mixologists. Maybe even something more than just mixologists. Making a drink is a serious endeavor at this place and it's clear that the proper making of a drink is more important than anything else in the world at that moment for these guys. From smelling the glass before anything is poured into it, and then again once its been properly muddled and then tasted before serving to ensure the best cocktail, these guys, as Danna put it, "are no joke".

I started with the Negroni, and yes, it was perfectly made, albeit quite strong. Nothing wrong with that. I followed up with a Pimm's Cup, which is quite possibly the best cocktail I've ever had. Superbly made, delicious tasting without being overly sweet and providing a wonderful buzz without risking the headache in the morning, this cocktail rules. The traditional drink includes Pimm's No. 1, 7-Up, a slice of cucumber and a twist of lemon peel. This version added a bit of mint and replaced the lemon peel with a lime peel. Think of a cross between a mojito and a Long Island iced tea. I had at least two of these, a shot of Patron with some of the guys and a specialty shot Akiva made up for us that was excellent, and tasted somewhat like grapefruit. No idea what else was in it.

We left this den of heavenly libations (and the tarot card reader in the front window) to find ourselves on our way to Jersey City to drink Amstel Lights and Sierra Nevada Pale Ales (it was BYOB) at Danna's coworker's house. I can't lie that it was a huge downturn but we had fun nonetheless. My wife, practically holding me up on the last stretch of walk home later that evening. It was the beers that brought me down. Those cocktails would've kept me in much better shape had we stayed there. Alas, I know where Employees Only is and by the looks of things, they aren't going anywhere for quite awhile.

A great review can be found here:


Blogger BADGE said...

I returned to Employees Only recently to meet up with my good friend Jeff whom I haven't seen in awhile. A friend of his and he were sitting on the charming patio in the back with a few Spatens when I arrived. I ponied up to the table and quickly ordered a Pimm's Cup which delivered the buzz I was looking for. From that point forward, it would be a night of beer, which is probably a good thing considering they are about half as expensive and take longer to finish.

Throughout the night, I ordered a half dozen oysters and the asparagus that sits in this delicious garlic broth.

I must have stunk from here to high heaven the rest of the evening...and especially in the morning, but alas, Danna was on another of her trips to LA.

Before calling it a night (at 3am on a Tuesday), we stopped next door at the Blind Tiger and had a couple of beers that at the moment have escaped me, though I know I wrote them down.

What a great bar. A completely different genre of watering hole compared to Employees Only, but the kind I originally found myself in as a young New Yorker/drinker back in the day.

And definitely a place where you can just get blotto without anyone really caring.

5:50 PM  
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