Saturday, May 05, 2007

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Today was both the 133rd running of the Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo. What was the Barman to do?

Well, the only thing, obviously, was to celebrate them both.


My first stop was Floyd's in downtown Brooklyn just a short hop down Atlantic Avenue from Pete's Waterfront Ale House. Floyd's has an indoor boccie ball court so you wouldn't immediately associate if with the Kentucky Derby. It turns out, however, that the owners are, indeed, transplanted Kentuckians, so this wasn't just a gimmick to draw in a crowd. Well, maybe it was. Otherwise why would they have the floor strewn with hay. I doubt if the winner of the race would be showing up to mingle with the crowd.

My Mint Julep

I have to admit that I was a bit put off by both the size of my drink and the fact that it was served in a plastic glass. I was told that the plastic glasses were necessary because of the large crowd that was expected. Seeing as how the place wasn't very crowded at the time I wasn't really buying this. However, my spirits (get it, spirits) were lifted a bit when after I mentioned to Gabby, the bartender, that my drink was a bit on the sweet side she took care of it by adding a very generous slug of Old Crow. Nothing brightens up Barman's day like a stiff drink being made a bit stiffer.

Bartenders Gabby and Robert Plus Barman

The place had indeed begun to pack up by the time I left so the explanation of the plastic glasses seemed reasonable. They were commemorative plastic glasses, but I failed to take mine home. I used to have one that I actually got at the Kentucky Derby the year Seattle Slew won. That was my only time being there and I couldn't see a bit of the race due both to the crowd in the infield and the amazing amount of alcohol that was consumed.


For the second part of my day I didn't have far to go. I merely toddled down the street about 20 yards and headed into Mezcal's for a margarita. Now, I won't say the drink was bad, but they did use a mix instead of fresh lime juice so this drink too was a bit on the sweet side. Barman is not overly fond of sweet drinks, as you may have noticed. Well, that isn't totally true. I do like Pina Colada's (my mother used to delight in embarrassing us when we were younger by ordering a Penis Colossus) and I have a bartender friend, Allison, who makes a dynamite Chunky Monkey that we drink by the pool in Puerto Vallarta.

My Margarita

After successfully celebrating both the Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo I decided to stop back at Pete's Waterfront Ale House and have the Harpoon Refsvindinge Private Stock Ale that I had tasted the night before. Damn, I waited too long and it was gone. I settled for a bottle of Bluebird Bitter, a nice little beer brewed by Hepworth brewery in Horsham, West Sussex, England.

It is contract brewed for Coniston brewery which makes a cask version of this. It was a nice coppery orange color with a somewhat thin head. I can't say there was anything special to recommend it, but it was a good palate cleanser after my previous drinks.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Rib Ticklin' Good

Every once in awhile Barman gets a craving for barbecued ribs. Luckily, on of his favorite haunts has some of the best you can get anywhere (unless you do your own).

Pete's Waterfront Ale House

The somewhat disreputable fellow standing in the doorway is actually one of their bartenders opening up for the day. He cleans up well and is quite knowledgeable about the beers he serves and if you ask nicely will offer you a taste before you commit to actually paying for one.

Gulden Draak Ale

No, this is not a beer brewed on Long Island, once famous for their ducks. Gulden Draak actually means Golden Dragon and this is a mighty fine Belgian Ale brewed by Van Steenberge.

It has a dark amber hue that sparkles when you hold it to the light. There isn't much of a head, but what little there is clings to the side of your glass almost like spun sugar. The beer is thick and sweet, almost like a Scottish Ale and has a noticeably caramel taste to it. It is a triple and has a nice kick to it, 10.5% in fact. You can pick that up just by sniffing, but it is just as noticeable going down. This would be a great beer to drink while ice-fishing. It would also go well with a chocolate desert or a good cheese.

Legend has it that Prince Arn, a knight of the Round Table, drank this after he slew the golden dragon. I would guess he probably drank quite a bit before attempting it too.

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

Another strong (9%) beer from the ever reliable Dogfish Head brewery in Delaware. IPAs are all the trend now and, interestingly, beers like this that I would never have put in that category a few years ago are claiming the title. True to IPA tradition it is strong and hoppy. This was originally necessary to keep the beer from spoiling on long ocean voyages. However, there is a trend among some brewers towards making them both sweeter and heavier then they used to be. This falls into that category. Whereas I would normally think of drinking an IPA to quench my thirst on a hot day (hey, they were once sent to India for the troops) this would not do the trick. Very good though.

Harpoon Refsvindinge Private Stock Ale

I was about to sit down for my ribs when the bartender suggested that I try this beverage. A good call. Harpoon brewery in Vermont collaborated with Refsvindinge brewery in Denmark to produce the exceptional farmhouse ale in a limited edition, only 100 barrels (so you better try to get it quick).

A very pretty dark golden color with a nice creamy white head. It has a nicely fruity, think apricots, and spicy, think pepper, nose to it and is very smooth and crisp. Very easy to discern both the malt and hops in this one. At "only" 7.8% alcohol it was almost like a soft-drink at this point. But much better.

Ribs At Last

The Mysterious Chinese Woman (yes, she is still around) and I finally sat down to our ribs with a bottle of Brooklyn Brewery's Local 1 (which I have described elsewhere). The ribs were delicious, as usual. After splitting a reasonably priced rack we still had plenty to take home for lunch the next day. I may have mentioned that the food here is always exceptional.

Sam Barbieri, the manager of Pete's Waterfront Ale House, is an avid barbecuer and has several trophies to attest to his prowess (although I am not sure if he is directly responsible for the ribs, they also have a mighty fine chef). At any rate, Sam along with Jeff Riley of The Smokin' Grill and Rob Richter of the Long Island Barbecue Team will be serving up barbecued delights at 7th annual Brooklyn Pigfest next Saturday, May 12th. It will be held in Dumbo (God, I hate that name) in Brooklyn at the Empire State Tobacco Warehouse. There will also be live music and beer supplied by Brooklyn Brewery (the beer, not the music, unless Garrett Oliver, Brooklyn Brewery's brewmaster, decides to sing). The music is by The Cobble Hillbillies and the South Slope String Band. Admission is $75 in advance and $85 at the door. A bit pricey, but you get a lot and it is for a good cause, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. It runs from 1:00 P.M. until 6:00 P.M. so you should be able to eat, drink, and dance your money's worth.

Waterfront Ale House in Brooklyn