Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Painkiller Unleashes Biggest Cocktail List in Town
Death & Co. has some competition in copiousness.
Painkiller, the LES tiki bar, last night unleashed what is probably the largest cocktail list in town. Gone is the cryptic placemat/menu, which divided tiki drinks into a few totemic categories ("Frozens," "Daiquiris" "Swizzles") and let the customer, with some guidance from the bartender, take it from there. In its place is a document the size, scope and look of a classic take-out Chinese menu. No longer will patrons wonder what exactly Painkiller can make for them. Instead, they will have to mull what selection, among the Greek diner-like abundance, they will settle on. The bar's gone from the elemental to exuberant expansionism.
Aside from the Top 10 Classics (Jet Pilot, Mai Tai, etc.) and a set of six Scorpion bowls, there are 103 tiki cocktails to choose from, by my count. According to co-owner Giuseppe Gonzalez, at least a third of these are modern creations, invented by him and the Painkiller staff, or outside contemporaries.
Gonzalez' reasons for creating the more explicit and explosive menu were two-fold. He said he wanted to show his customers all that tiki could be and all his bartenders could create; he got tired of seeing his customers order and his bartenders make the same several drinks over and over again.
I sampled two of the new libations. First came the LES Luau Mist, which Gonzalez said involved a triple infusion with bacon, pineapple and clove—all the elements in a luau roast pig. After that I had something modestly called The Most Interesting Flip in the World. (A Flip is a very old and frothy class of cocktail that included egg.) The boast was not altogether empty. It was damn interesting, and kept getting more interesting as I topped it off with the rest of the bottle of Ballantine, which was left with me. The drink is made of Cognac, Curacao, Grenadine and orange bitters. 2 dashes of orange bitters.I can't explain it, but distinct hints of Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray Tonic and Cream Soda were in that drink.