One feels a bit sheepish around out-of-towners boasting that New York City has the best cocktail culture in the nation (even if one knows that this is true). Folks from other estimable cities do tend to brandish the most enormous chips on their shoulder when confronted with the (to their minds) outrageous myth of Gotham's cultural superiority in various departments.
So one learns to keep one's trap shut and extol the virtues of the West Coast, the South, the Midwest, the Northeast, etc. And they all do have virtues to extol, believe you me. But then one's confronted with factual circumstances like the results of the Spirit Awards at this Tales of the Cocktail, which just concluded in New Orleans. Among the winners: Pegu Club, Clover Club, PDT—all in New York.
Here are the results:
Best American Bar: Pegu Club, NY
Best Hotel Bar in the World: The Merchant Hotel Belfast
Best Cocktail Writing 2009: David Wondrich
Best New Product: Bols Genever
Best American Brand Ambassador: Simon Ford, Plymouth Gin
Wolds Best Drinks Selection: The Merchant Hotel Belfast
Amercian Bartender of the Year: James Meehan, PDT, NY
Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book: Dale de Groff, The Essential Cocktail
World’s Best Cocktail Menu – The Merchant Hotel Belfast
International Bartender of the Year: Tony Conigliaro, UK
World’s Best New Cocktail Bar: Clover Club, NY
World’s Best Cocktail Bar: PDT, NY
Tales of the Cocktails Helen David Life Achievement Award: Peter Dorelli, London
Now, I tend to think that all awards are stuff and nonsense. Is there really a "World's Best Cocktail Bar"? I don't think so. So take it with a grain of salt. But, you have to admit, New York's got something to offer.
Meanwhile, I've got to find a way to get myself to Belfast.