Hot Dogs, Honey Deuces, Happy Hour Martinis, Thin-Crust Tavern Style Pizza..
Welcome to The Lowdown, an all-new, expanded edition of what I’m drinking, eating, reading, writing, watching, and listening to. It is also a space to spotlight a few of my favorite things. This paid subscriber exclusive is sent out on select Fridays.
Honey Deuce (Caffe Dante)
Is it even the US Open if you haven’t drank at least one Honey Deuce? I met up at Caffe Dante with my dear friend and former book editor Emily Timberlake the Wednesday before the Open commenced but it was too soon to order a Honey Deuce. So I returned that Friday when they were back on the menu.
The official drink of the US Open, the Honey Deuce is made with Grey Goose Vodka, lemonade, a splash of Chambord (paging David Lebovitz!), and garnished with a trio of frozen honeydew melon balls. This year, Aperol is also an official sponsor of the Open and that sunset-hued upstart spritz of theirs is now popping up among all the pink Deuces.
Honey Deuce variations abound and the one at Caffe Dante, made with Grey Goose, Midori, fresh pineapple, melon, and lime juice, topped with S.Pellegrino, and a skewer of frozen balls of honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon is wonderfully refreshing (and you get to keep the commemorative glass).
Happy Hour Martinis (Emmett’s on Grove)
I’m usually not Johnny Happy Hour but I was a convert during a recent early evening visit to Emmett’s on Grove. Their Happy Hour & A Half runs at the bar Tuesday through Friday from 5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. featuring better-than-they-need-to-be Martinis ($9) and a lineup of delicious tavern snacks like Pigs in a Blanket, Chicken Parm Sliders, housemade Potato Chips, and wedges of Crispy Mozzarella.
The bartenders welcome most Martini variations, whether dry, 50/50, dirty, or even a Vesper. They use Letherbee Gin (from Chicago, natch) or Tito’s Vodka and for vermouth it’s Dolin Blanc, and Lillet blanc in the Vesper. My associate ordered a 50/50 and I went with a (OK, maybe two?) 2:1 Martini and got a little fancy asking for a grapefruit twist. Brian, the kind bar manager, offered to check out the basement walk-in fridge but I assured him a lemon twist would be just perfect.
We ordered the Pigs in a Blanket, Crispy Mozzarella, and Chicken Parm Sliders to start (more on the pizza below). I’m usually not a fried mozz stix guy (I know, I know), but the breaded-and-fried wedges were well-seasoned and possessed a perfect Suppli al Telefono-style cheese pull. We also threw in an order of Meatball Sliders, but definitely preferred the Chicken Parm jawn.
With Happy Hour & A Half behind us, we switched to bourbon Manhattans (did I mention I didn’t get much writing done the next day?). Emmett himself came by to say hello which is always a highlight of any visit. He bought us a round and we went with Rye-Nars (50/50 rye/Cynar) in chilled rocks glasses. And I even scored an Emmett’s on Grove bucket hat! (Take that forthright female friend who once told me concerning my signature lid: “I know you think you look good in that bucket hat, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.”)
Bambino Little Italy (Red Hook Tavern)
I’m all about the bambino-sized closer when I’m at a bar, sometimes even an extended flight of tiny little cocktails to linger over when I should really head home but I’m still not quite ready to leave. The guys at Red Hook Tavern kept me in my seat with this miniature Little Italy (rye, sweet vermouth, Cynar, cherry) and this just might be my new nightcap move.