Monday, September 13, 2010

The Relationship Between Cocktails and Pork

The symbiotic relationship between the cocktail community and pork is one that's been on my mind for some time—so much so that I wrote a little piece about the subject for Tasting Table today.

In case you haven't noticed, for cocktailians, pork isn't the Other White Meat. It's the Only White Meat.

Glance at the bar bites menu at any speakeasy in New York or Brooklyn, and you'll find piggy little treats near the top of the list. East Village's PDT has a culinary relationship with neighboring frankfurter innovator Crif Dogs. Nearby Death & Co. and tequila-focused Mayahuel both serve up a delectable pork belly. So does Williamsburg's Rye. Red Hook's Fort Defiance offers a pork loin with roasted potatoes. And Brooklyn's Clover Club, which is famous for its brunchtime bacon tasting, has just reintroduced what may be the best BLT in the city to its summertime menu. (Chef Craig Rivard only serves it when tomatoes are in season.)

I asked Clover Club owner Julie Reiner, and she said the connection is all a matter of good taste. "I think that most people who consider themselves to be cocktailians also consider themselves to be foodies," she said, "and all foodies love pork!"

Mixologists love it so much they even put it in their drinks. Don Lee's bacon-fat-washed Benton's Old Fashioned (using a technique learned from Eben Freeman) is legend by now. Lesser known, but just as good is the Serrano-ham-washed Brandy Alexander of Clif Travers at Williamsburg's Bar Celona. "All that beautiful fat was being thrown away so I figured I should try using it," explained Travers. "I just pay attention to my chefs and use their leftovers."

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