I was messing around on Facebook when I saw that Damon Dyer was online. I hadn't seen or talked to him in a long while so I asked him what nights he worked Flatiron Lounge. I was due for a visit to the joint as well as to stop by and say hi to Damon.
My timing couldn't have been any better, because Damon told me that the new spring menu would be debuting on Tuesday. This worked out great, I was going to be (sort of ) in the neighborhood anyway, since I was going to sneak into the School of Visual Arts to listen to one of my favorite artists give a lecture.
So after I was done feeling thoroughly uncool and old surrounded by art school kids, being star struck by how cool and awesome my favorite artist and totally embarrassing myself by tripping over my words and mumbling my way to having my shoes signed (they were the only things I had on me that could be signed), I needed a drink.
I made a quick jaunt from SVA to Flatiron Lounge. I waved hello to Damon over the heads of people sitting at the bar.
"So are these new like spring new or new like new new," I asked over the tops of heads as I stood on the tips of my toes.
"Both," Damon shouted back over the heads. "I got the recipes like two hours ago."
I looked over the menu and immediately saw there were a bunch of spring-welcoming ingredients and flavors like strawberry, rhubarb, cucumber, honeydew and white peach.
For example, the Beijing Peach sounds like a light, floral drink with its combination of vodka, pearls of jasmine and white peach.
I wanted to start off with the Imperial Daiquiri (white rum, lime, rhubarb and strawberries), but Damon said that was sadly the only one I could not have because there was no rhubarb. So I amended my order to the One Inch Punch.
The menu listed a blend of rums, youngberry, fresh grapefruit and lemon as the drinks ingredient. It also said "spiced with abit of velvet and a bit of tiki." I didn't pay good attention to any this latter part, but you should in light of the following realization.
So the drink was really light and refreshing. I could see someone easily sipping it in the middle of a hot and humid summer, just as much as I could see someone enjoying it in the early warmth of spring. But there was something. Something familiar about it.
The more I thought about it, the more it crept up on me. It reminded me of...ginseng tea? Sweet, yet kind of like an herbal tea. And if anyone's ever had ginseng tea or nibbled on a bit of ginseng, you know the spicy herby flavor I'm trying to discuss.
But first things first, I asked Damon what the blend of rums was, and he answered it was aged Barbados and light Jamaican rums in the drink. Good to know. What is this youngberry business?
"Think of a flavor profile that's something like raspberries and blackberries," Damon said.
OK, now for the last question. What is this mystery ginseng-like flavor going on in this drink. It's something I can't put my finger on.
"That's exactly what we want...it's falernum."
Ooooh, the "velvet" was velvet falernum. Though I was surprised because in this drink the falernum took on a totally different flavor personality.
Speaking of mystery complex flavors, I tried out the Gypsy Dancer, a concoction of Damon's featured on the spring menu.
The ingredients list was deceptively simple: rye, Benedictine, yellow chartreuse and lemon.
Damon said that the drink was an equal parts drink that's very loosely related to the last word.
The result is a drink that tastes like you're drinking two different drinks at the same time. As you take the sip, the initial flavors and smells that stand out to you are lemon and sweet, making it like the usual cocktail with citrus and almost reminiscent of lemonade or lemon drink. However, as soon as the liquid touches your tongue, the drink itself transforms so that you feel like you're drinking a spirits-based drink.
I was chatting with bartender Adam Ramsey, I'd forgotten where we met, but he remembered that Alex Day had introduced us before. He was telling me about Phil Ward's new tequila joint that was in the works when I realized I had to cut myself off at just two drinks due to it being a school night. I reluctantly got up, promising Adam I'd stop by again sometime to finish up the others I didn't get a chance to try.