Sunday, July 25, 2010

Solo at Mint

I am a mixologist's nightmare. If I'm going to drink anything besides wine, it's going to be good tequila on ice, so no mixing skills are required. Still, when I want to talk mixology and sip a good tequila, I usually go to down to Mint to visit with Bobby. He's guaranteed good company and I always enjoy our food/restaurant/spirits discussions (the things I learned about gin tonight!).

Given today's heat, my lethargy prevented me from heading down to the Bottom until 9ish. It was still 98 degrees but there was a nearly full moon rising in the sky as I drove east, so there was hope for a drop in the temperature sometime soon. At least that's what I told myself.

Bobby greeted me enthusiastically and the few bar patrons were waiting for a table, so they soon left, leaving me alone at the bar. I ordered Cazadores Reposado, a tequila Bobby had introduced me to, on ice and opened the menu. The heat had sapped my appetite but tequila on an empty stomach is just foolish and I knew better.

Just as I was scanning the menu, a server came up and informed Bobby that the kitchen had 86'd several items, including two of the appetizers I'd been considering. No problem because the Hudson Valley fois gras with pineapple preserved lemon jam, rice paper crisps and balsamic beef jus reduction was still available. Bobby said he thought it was Julep's finest appetizer, validating my choice.

Bobby was right. The seared fois gras was silky and rich and the chunks of pineapple in the jam a sweet balance to the savory. I could taste what an indulgence it was and I enjoyed it more so for it. I followed that with the southern spicy lobster spring rolls with chipotle/lime aioli. Nothing could have been better than the fois gras, but the lobster rolls had great flavor and a killer sauce, so I was more than satisfied.

I love it when Julep morphs into Mint. The white tablecloths are stripped away, the shades are lowered and the music goes from low-volume big band and swing to higher volume alternative. Now that's the way to create a drinking ambiance with attitude.

Meanwhile Bobby wanted me to taste his espresso martini, enhanced with citrus to cut the coffee flavor; even a non-coffee drinker like me had to admit the beauty of the flavor combination. I moved back to Cazadores afterwards and we jumped into conversation about his favorite local bars, the difference between mixology and just combining flavors to make a cocktail and my continuing love life issues. He even gave me a heads up on some new bars on the horizon.

Bobby is starting to do Wednesdays at Fanhouse, taking his cocktail magic on the road, if you will. His mad skills are sure to elevate the atmosphere and crowd at this new gathering place on the Robinson corridor. I've been in there for drinks before, but never with a master behind the bar. All of a sudden, Wednesdays in the Fan are looking up.

I may not need a mixologist's master blending skills, but a good conversationalist is invaluable for a solo diner/drinker. Besides, if he doesn't have to make drinks for me, he has more time to talk.

Let's get my priorities straight here.

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