By now, I have been to nearly every one of the important, high-end, ballyhooed cocktail haunts in New York City—Pegu Club, Little Branch, Milk & Honey, Brandy Library, PDT, Death & Co. And though I was drinking each time I visited these establishments (duh), I was cogent enough to collect some observation about the Ways and Habits of the Modern Cocktailian.
These places are very like one another. I don't mean that as a slight. I'm just saying the owners seem to think alike; their minds are on the same track. If they all played musical chairs and suddenly traded places with each other tomorrow, I think they'd be quite happy wherever they landed.
After some thought, I've compiled a list of things that 21st century cocktail lounge owners cotton to. That is, things apart from finely honed libations, fresh ingredients, masterly bartenders, a deep knowledge of cocktail history and a fully stocked bar. Those go with the territory. Other aspects of the Vida Cocktailia are less readily apparent, but are seemingly, secretly agreed upon by all and sundry in the industry. They are:
*A love of speakeasy-like secrecy. Many new cocktail lounges are hard to find, lack signs, and have secret phone numbers.
*A abhorrence of standing patrons. Reservations are usually required, and often every patron must have a seat or be gone.
*A code of etiquette, sometimes found as a framed document hung in the bathroom.
*A distinct dislike of dancing.
*Booths and stools. Free-standing tables are only rarely seen.
*Addresses below 14th Street.
*Color schemes ranging from dark brown to deep umber.
*Old-fashioned, vaguely egg-cup-shaped cocktail glasses.
*A prohibition on cell phones.
Again, I only observe. I do not poke fun. In fact, I approve of most of the above.