Ok, so the title is a bit misleading, because I'm only going to talk about one restaurant in this post. Also because longtime readers know that when I declare something "Part I", Part II either never comes, or randomly pops up six months later to much confusion.
In any case, we spent last weekend in New York. One of the first places we went was Vandaag, in the East Village. Jon had actually heard of it and wondered about genever. Hence, a field trip to check it out. Vandaag is mainly a genever bar, though also a restaurant.
Isn't this gorgeous? This is the Vandaag Gin Cocktail. I think the most interesting component is a "golden ale reduction", which is just what it sounds like. It also contained genever, bitters, and a tiny bit of kirschwasser and absinthe. The grapefruit peel garnish nicely integrated everything. The bartender noted that the drink changes completely based on which variety of fruit peel it's garnished with, which is fascinating. I wouldn't have been able to distinguish its components without referencing the menu, but the drink was perfect, and a great recommendation from the bartender based on my "not sweet!" request.
Jon opted for a beer and a shot of genever, so he could sip and analyze the flavors. Straight genever was really interesting- very delicate and crisp, but not overly floral the way most ordinary gins are. It was like drinking the essence of rain, which sounds ridiculous but describes the experience perfectly.
We were on a bit of a food crawl (wait til you hear about our Jewish-breakfast-food crawl of the Lower East Side, next time), so we just ordered a bread basket before continuing. It seemed a bit pricey, and we weren't expecting much. But then this came:
This is quite possibly the best $6 bread basket in the world. There were wafer-thin pumpernickel crisps, hay-smoked white, red ale, cranberry-walnut, and seaweed foccacia. Pretty sure it's all homemade. Oh, and it came with gin butter and a onion-bacon jam. I'm going to attempt some gin butter someday soon, because it was amazing.
I just wish we could've stayed longer, but we had a whole city to explore. We'll definitely be back- maybe for their Sunday or Monday specials.