New York: Booker and Dax Delivers High Tech, Delicious Cocktails

Nick torching a cocktail

I could spend a whole week in New York and not get to all the restaurants and cocktail bars on my shortlist. But Booker and Dax was one of those do-or-die bars and well, I’m just glad that I made it back to the East Village on my last night on the island.

Lady of the Night (Reposado tequila, tomato water, horseradish, sriracha, worcestershire)

They’re flashy cocktails, but not purely for showman’s sake. (And what a show they put on.) These cocktails are, most importantly, delicious – and thought-provokingly so.

With Momofuku Milk Bar shuffled across the street for this few months-old cocktail bar, a torch, centrifuge and carbonating-shaker-contraptions (as they are scientifically called) are found on the same counters once occupied by crack pie and cereal milk soft serve machines. Booker and Dax is a collaborative effort by David Chang and Dave Arnold with the latter bringing his brand new methods to the table.

Liquid nitrogen application

The resulting cocktail menu is one that can be divided into fifths. That is: Bubbles, stirred, shaken, on the rock and Red Hot Poker. And if you’re interested in what you’re drinking in the least, you best be sitting at the bar if only to witness the wizardry of the process. For instance, if you ever thought water and ice was enough to chill your glass whilst the bartender makes your cocktail, think again, because only liquid nitrogen does the trick at Booker and Dax.

The Lady of the Night was effectively a liquid Bloody Mary – one to be enjoyed all times of the day. Horseradish tincture is in the cocktail, which was created by first muddling fresh horseradish with vodka and then re-distilling it. Sriracha essence? Basically the liquid resulting from centrifigual force enacted upon the infamous rooster sauce. The result was a Bloody Mary full of clarity. No pulp to be found – just all-out flavor.

Bangkok Daiquiri

Of course, I had to see the Red Hot Poker in action, so I ordered a Friend of the Devil, or what I’d call a “Torched Boulevardier,” made with rye, campari, sweet vermouth and pernod bitters. As I was curious if the alcohol might be burnt off as a result of the torching action, Sother Teague reassured me that each cocktail is indeed made with more spirits to compensate. Served in a ceramic cup, the resulting cocktail was warm and comforting with a touch of carmelization to taste. And it was strong.

A super simple but delicious cocktail my friend Greg ordered was the Bangkok Daiquiri, made with white rum, lime and Thai basil. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try any of the cocktails made with carbonation but was lucky to witness a fellow guest’s cocktail get shaken. She assured me that it was carbonated and delicious.

Next time, New York. Next time.

Sun – Thur

6 PM – 2 AM

Fri – Sat

6 PM – 3 AM

Booker and Dax
207 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10003

March Edison Radio Room Tonight

Globo Rojo #2 (Strawberries, Mezcal, Tawny Port & Bitters, Fruit, Smoke, Tannin)

It’s that time, again. Mixologists – mostly hailing from New York City - have flown in to show off their steez at The Edison in Downtown LA tonight. With Joe Brooke now firmly at the helm of The Edison’s cocktail program, there have been a few changes in protocol that we were made aware of at last night’s media preview. At tonight’s Radio Room, you will only be able to order each cocktail from the visiting mixologist who designed it via drink tickets at designated stations and servers. Edison staff will serve all other cocktails, food and beverages. An added perk on the food side as well: Christophe Happillon, who has for awhile now served oysters on the half-shell during Radio Room, will also have crab claws available!

Crab Claws by Christophe Happillon

Though most have flown in from the other coast, I enjoyed the cocktails from Seattle’s Zane Harris (of Rob Roy) probably the most. Last night at the media preview, the Globo Rojo #2 made me do a double-take with its smoky strawberry profile at the center. The other cocktail he brought us was the Vieux Cerde, made with 12-year Jameson, VSOP and a “drizzling” of Elisir M.P. Roux and bitters. It was truly a cocktail that made you think – in a good way – with a deep complexity that evolved the longer it lingered on your palate.

Following closeby as far as my favorite cocktails for the night were by Giuseppe Gonzales – currently at Dutch Kills and working on a new bar called Painkiller on the Lower East Side. The Wild Orchid (gin, almond, elderflower & red wine floater) and Infante (tequila, lime, orgeat, orange blossom water, nutmeg) both come from Dutch Kills and they were both incredibly refreshing in their own way. The red wine floater in the Wild Orchid, which is usually suspended when the drink made with crushed ice, added a bit of weight and color to what might otherwise be a lightweight concoction.  The Infante, which is Dutch Kills’ most popular cocktail, was like a sophisticated turn at the margarita – perfect with the added citrus of orange blossom and rounding out with a nutty finish from the freshly-grated nutmeg. Beautiful.

Zane Harris, Seattle

Don Lee, of Momofuku Ssam Bar fame, put together his Rite of Spring – which was a “fresh, seasonal take” on a classic Gibson. The base was vodka and also had rice vinegar, but with such a strong onion infusion in the cocktail, I thought gin might have blended better. Korean peppers further added complexity but I had a hard time with this particular vodka cocktail. Simon Ford (Pernod Ricard - New York & London), served up a cocktail named Good Morning, Vietnam, which featured gin, ginger and orange marmelade. I think by this time during the night (with yet another stop at First & Hope to come) my palate had gotten tired – as Maya swore she tasted the ginger, and I had tasted absolutely none. I tasted more lemon than anything, but it was still a welcome introduction to the Los Angeles spring to come.

Another bit of news: The Edison will have a new location in Manhattan in about 18 months. Now cocktail aficianados on the other coast won’t have to travel 3,000 miles to get their own dosage.

Cocktail menu ($14 each):

Wild Orchid (Giuseppe Gonzalez)
Infante (Giuseppe Gonzalez)
Rite of Spring (Don Lee)
Globo Rojo #2 (Zane Harris)
Vieux Cerde (Zane Harris)
Good Morning, Vietnam (Simon Ford)

Further reading:

Radio Room Preview Event & Announcing The Edison New York – Thirsty in LA

Preview of Tonight’s Radio Room at The Edison – LA & OC Foodventures

Q&A With Bartender Zane Harris – Food GPS

Q&A With Bartender Simon Ford – Food GPS

Tonight’s Radio Room at The Edison – ShopEatSleep

Sneak Preview of The Radio Room Tonight – Gourmet Pigs

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

8 PM

$10 entry

Radio Room at The Edison
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
108 W. 2nd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012