Where You Should Be Drinking: Juliet
We mentioned yesterday that we recently celebrated a birthday dinner at Red Hen. Well, that was just birthday dinner one of two. Our birthdays are less than a week apart; so we could, if we wanted, just do one combined birthday dinner. But we don’t want to. We’re separate people, gosh darn it, and we won’t let the proximity of our birthdays get in the way of each us getting our very own celebration. If it means two fancy dinners one right after the other, so be it. As luck would have it, this year we were able to separate our celebrations geographically, if not on the calendar. One of our birthdays fell in DC, and the other on a short stop in Boston on our way to a wedding on Massachusetts’ North Shore. We try to keep tabs on our beloved old neighborhood of Union Square, and we discovered that while we’ve been gone one of the local coffeeshops had closed down and the space had been claimed by a new restaurant. We used our birthday dinner to check it out.
We hate to support any changes to our old neighborhood; quite reasonably, we think, we expect it to be preserved in amber as a memorial to our many fond memories of the place. But we’ll make an exception just this once. Juliet is an absolutely delightful little spot. During the day, it remains a cafe; and then at night it transforms into a sort of brick and mortar pop-up restaurant. The charming neighborhood couple who run the place had been catering events; they enjoyed the variety, but started to feel worn down by creating a new menu for each event and by setting up and tearing down their kitchen every time. So, they decided to set up a permanent shop, but to keep up the variety they offer a new, themed tasting menu every 4-6 weeks. We were there for their Marseille menu, and we felt just like we were transported back to our trip to Provence last summer.
If you have your own celebratory dinner coming up and find yourself near Union Square, we highly recommend you make your way to Juliet for their excellent food and warm hospitality.
And don’t forget the drinks.
What We Ordered
Prufrock Punch: arrack, port, lemon, assam tea
Count Negroni: Citadelle gin, campari, Leatherbee fernet
Bee’s Knees: gin, Old Friends turmeric honey, lemon, cava
What We Thought
The Prufrock Punch arrived in a pretty little teacup and saucer. The arrack was of the Middle Eastern, anise-flavored variety rather than the Indonesian palm sugar spirit we used in our Bombay Presidency Punch. The soft licorice flavor of the arrack combined nicely with the rich lemon oil from the oleo saccharum. The port contributed a well-rounded, fruity flavor and a nice pink color.
Speaking of color, the turmeric in the Bee’s Knees gave it a jewel-like, bright yellow color, and offered a bit of Eastern spice complexity to what can sometimes be a rather simple drink.
We also appreciated the way that the Count Negroni doubled down on bitterness by replacing the usual sweet vermouth with fernet. It made for a surprisingly complicated flavor, rather than just amping up the bitterness.
These little twists on classics were right up our alley. They struck the right balance of familiar and novel.