The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2012

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Page 28 of 124

SAN FRAN INSIDER Cocktails by the N DEBORAH PARKER WONG MEETS THE MAN BEHIND NYC'S PDT ew York cocktail authority Jim Meehan made a rare visit to San Francisco last month as part of his Pernod Ricard book tour, and San Fran Insider sat down with him over a Blue Bottle cappuccino to discuss the state of the industry and his latest work, The PDT Cocktail Book: The Complete Bartender's Guide from the Celebrated Speakeasy. Billed as a business reference, a snapshot of New York City cocktail culture and a guide destined to become as useful as your favorite cookbook, Meehan describes the handsome volume, published by Sterling Epicure, as the ultimate training guide—one that is a reflection on the totality of his approach to bartending. Meehan's mantra, "We serve people drinks, not drinks to people," is a constant reminder of the role that service continues to play in his success both behind the bar and as an industry visionary. When asked about the rising backlash against esoteric ingredients and the advanced techniques required to recreate many of the cocktails in the book, Meehan was quick to point out that there is a time and a place for everything. "PDT cocktails are all about push- ing the envelope, but service is the key." He recalled the last time he ordered a Gin and Tonic and a server expressed "Deliciousness is not enough!" The techniques and ingredients captivating Meehan at the moment: ◗ molecular gastronomy applied to cocktails ◗ "savory veggies" such as butternut squash and kumquats ◗ dark brown spirits, including armagnac 28 / the tasting panel / march 2012 Book disappointment at his choice. "Of course there's going to be push back if consumers are being force-fed complex cocktails when they want to be served a Gin and Tonic. It's a public business after all." In developing the book, Meehan scoured old recipe books and bar manuals to create a compilation of cocktails that date from as early as 1884 and reach through 2010, each accom- panied by an anecdote that provides context Jacques Bezuidenhout of La Perla,'s Alexis Doctoler, Jim Meehan and Daniel Eun celebrate Meehan's The PDT Cocktail Book at Comstock Saloon in San Francisco. for the reader. He credits the author of each recipe and the date the recipe was developed or published, resulting in a Who's Who of sorts as familiar names jump off the page. As an added bonus, the literary-minded Meehan included a chapter titled "The Bartender's Library," a painstakingly researched annotated bibliography that cites his source material—a singular effort on his part and one that is worth the price of the book alone. While the author himself may be at a crossroads in his journey, Meehan has helped define contemporary standards for bartending that will bear the test of time. PHOTO: DEBORAH PARKER WONG

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