February 26, 2011
Painkiller in NYC is not your usual Tiki Bar. And Manhattan is not your usual island. Step off the street- dark-brooding-heart full of feverish dreams – this a slice of historical element meets downright drunk behavior. The doorman is cordial- the walk over punctuated by the sing-song dialects of the street. Yes, it is the Lower East Side, you’ve heard about it. The former Jewish ghetto of New York City, Eldridge Synagogue recently restored, sort of safe- but where is in NYC? The streets are full of ghosts, I can sense them. Tears and sadness as well as happiness and contentment. It’s all here folks and you cannot do a thing about it to stop it… But why would you?
This island has hosted many dreams over the years so it makes perfect sense for Tiki Bars to be popular. The other night I made my way over to Painkiller. Introducing myself as aRum Judge for the Ministry of Rum brought a huge smile and a guarantee of strong drinks. With smart phone in hand, I showed my photograph from the event and a huge smile ensued.
I’m pretty sure that the drinks would have been strong even if I didn’t speak of the Ministry. But it didn’t hurt. Writing about spirits is my passion… My joy is to share the low-brow, the cool, the interesting. At least I hope you will find it interesting. The Lower East Side is the perfect place for a Tiki Bar.
Painkiller is down a few steps, take care to feel your way down to the oasis of another land. Polynesia, circa 1970’s funky chicken wreck room with wild animal prints, lots of bamboo, the coolest bar you’ve ever seen, but the bar stools don’t move? Hmmm. Walk to the back and there are booths to sit in and melt. The drinks are strong here. Maybe stronger than anyplace I’ve enjoyed in the island of Manhattan. A drink this strong in my book should come from the islands. Island Style drinks are a learned art. My step-brother taught me about them on La Vonga. (off St. John in the US Virgin Islands) What was I doing on La Vonga, this historic island of ill repute and no running water? Ask my step-brother that, if you can find him. An island drink is one that has 3/4 liquor and 1/4 mixer. You take a 16 ounce plastic cup. Fill it with clean ice. Pour rum into the cup. Keep pouring. Keep pouring. Ok. Put a splash of coconut water to “float” over the rum. There! That’s it! Oh, the reason why they call it Island Style is because it’s 9:00 in the morning.
Let your hair hang down, sings Robert Plant. When I’m out I see you walking.. But why don’t your eyes see me?
(Heard on the street in NYC last week)
I was about 12. We were in the Ivory Coast of Africa. Out in the Bush country. It was about 1976. The rally was out there.. I could see their headlights paint the sky. The cars would be here shortly. I could hear the engines scream.. Lighting up the track. Tribesmen gathered with spears in hand, tribal scars on their faces. Stoic against the black sky. The cars SCREAMED BY…. leaving huge tracks of dust. Quiet again. Silence. Dark.
Painkiller is the perfect place for a cocktail.
Warren Bobrow is a mixologist, chef, and writer known as the Cocktail Whisperer. In 2010, Bobrow founded “Wild Table” for Wild River Review and serves as the master mixologist for several brands of liquor, including the Busted Barrel rum produced by New Jersey’s first licensed distillery since Prohibition.
Bobrow has published three books on mixology and written articles for Saveur magazine, Voda magazine, Whole Foods-Dark Rye, Distiller, Beverage Media, DrinkupNY and other periodicals. He writes the “On Whiskey” column for Okra Magazine at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and has written restaurant reviews for New Jersey Monthly.
His first book Apothecary Cocktails, was published in September 2013; and immediately went into a second printing. In 2014, he published Whiskey Cocktails. He was born and raised in Morristown, NJ, on a Biodynamic farm.
Warren Bobrow in this Edition
COCKTAIL WHISPERER, Editor
Apothecary Cocktails: Mexican Sleep Cure
Billy Reid: Bourbon, Branch and a Splash of Southern Lore
Blue Hill/Stone Barns: Time Exists in Harmony with Nature
The Cocktail Whisperer asks Anthony Bourdain Four Questions about Scotch
The Five Questions: Andrew Bell, American Sommelier
The Five Questions Catherine Reynolds
The Five Questions: Lincoln Henderson (Master Distiller)
The Five Questions: Natalie West (Foppiano Wines)
The Five Questions: Randall Grahm
The Five Questions: Sustainable Sushi
A Glass of Bourbon, Branch, and History
Midnight in the Bronx: Visit to Hunt’s Point Wholesale Fish Exchange
A Modern Day Absinthe Alchemist
A Summer Cocktail Party for Artie Shaw
Tales of the Cocktail: New Orleans, Louisiana