I haven't been to Meat, the pre-prohibition cocktail joint above The Blind Pig (at 1076 East Washington Street) in several months. Imagine my chagrin when I returned to the swankiest speakeasy in town and found the entire menu had changed! For the uninitiated, Meat served pre-prohibition era cocktails of the highest class, and their menu has changed and expanded to include far more drinks. The potions are still designated into the well done (easy drinking), medium, (more complicated) and rare (varsity level) offerings.
Now, I LOVE Meat. Though I harbored a few initial doubts about the sustainability of an operation dealing mostly in $10 cocktails, the dark, cool atmosphere, the giant plush armchairs, the free bar snacks, and the undeniably genius mixology won me over. Often, at other bars, I feel like an overgrown rugrat swilling down candy flavored drinks and watching slick big screen televisions spray out sports coverage. At Meat, I feel like an adult; a serene and classy woman in a little black dress and red lipstick, sipping complicated drinks with my dearest friends.
The new menu is, in my opinion, a roaring success. The Emma Frost, (made with Plymouth Gin, Cocchi Americano, grapefruit and lemon juice, Rothman & Winter crème de Violette and soda water) is an event in itself. That misty, grapefruity taste with just a hint of violet under the bite of the gin--this drink is like rolling down the windows on a balmy starry night, trailing your hand in the air, hearing cicadas scissor out their song in the trees. The Gin-Gin Mule, (with New Amsterdam, lime juice, Barrit's Ginger Beer and mint) is similarly light. The slight warm spice of the ginger plays around the squeaky clean, cold gin and lime backdrop; this is a summer in a glass.
I am happy to report that Meat still does an excellent Old Fashioned, though I must admit that several cocktails from the “Rare” side of their menu failed to turn my taste buds at all. The Juno was made with celery bitters, which perhaps contributed to the too-herbal aftertaste, and the Pocketful of Posies, though made with plumb brandy, was so heavy and strong I couldn't finish it. These were “rare” cocktails, however, perhaps I should have known. The new menu at Meat is even stronger than their first, providing more variety. If you haven't visited yet, you ought to meet someone at Meat.
Photos: Elizabeth Orrick