A Saturday night birthday party at a hip, downtown bar in SoHo normally paints the following picture: a dark, overly crowded bar where ordering an overpriced drink takes far too long and conversations are made by screaming. Thankfully, Amanda’s party was a little different.
The story goes like this. I had a great Saturday night out a few weeks ago at Merc Bar. The bar was crowded and I was lucky to weasel my tiny self to the front and make a little elbow room. Instantly, the bartender dropped off a long, slim drink menu in front of me which contained a satisfying list of house cocktails. After finally narrowing down my choices, I settled on the Blackbird.
The Blackbird contains Michter’s small batch bourbon, blackberries, mint syrup and lemon. Its simplicity almost seemed too good to be true, so I eagerly awaited its preparation. The drink appeared in front of me – a deep brown transparent liquid topped with fresh blackberries. I was distracted by conversation with friends when the bartender came back over just a few moments later and politely asked if I had tasted the drink yet. Sheepishly I hadn’t and I apologized for not sipping sooner. He was relieved by my response and insisted that the drink didn’t look quite right and if I would mind if he made it again. Naturally, I complied and watched closely as he remixed my drink to see what the difference would turn out to be.
What appeared the second time around was an opaque, deep red mixture – again, topped with the fresh blackberries – that begged to be sipped right away. The taste was extraordinary. I had been having very good luck lately with drinking flavorful bourbon cocktails but the Blackbird left a special mark. The flavor and texture was velvety smooth and posed a refreshingly fruitful nod that will have you ordering a second round. But what partnered along so well with its full-bodied flavor was the pleasure of having such a wonderful bartender on a crowded Saturday night downtown. How many times have we subjected ourselves to ill-mixed drinks that we drink anyway because getting the bartender’s attention was nearly impossible? I could never be mad at a bartender that admits he didn’t get it right the first time because he’ll end up putting some heart into the next one. And the result, in the end, is utterly fantastic.
151 Mercer Street (between Houston & Prince)