A few weeks ago, I received a tip from a very knowledgeable source that the Concord Crush cocktail at Gramercy Tavern was superlative and definitely worth the trip. I've been dying to eat at GT for a very, very long time (it replaced the number one Most Coveted Meal spot on my list after I finally conquered Eleven Madison Park). So I figured I'd ease my way in to the joint by stopping by for a drink at the bar before heading out for Saturday night festivities.
I arrived around 10:15 and found the place buzzing. No seats at the bar were available, so I hovered and looked over the cocktail menu (despite the fact that I was there for one thing and one thing only) until two ladies vacated their bar stools. I snagged one and settled in for a quality hour.
As befits such an incredible restaurant as GT, the bartenders were friendly, professional, and polished. My drink order was taken and the drink was mixed right in front of me, ultimately deposited on a coaster alongside a tall, thin glass of ice water. And so it was:
The Concord Crush consisted of vodka, concord grapes, and lime and was a delightful deep-purple color. I took a sip and noticed how well-balanced the flavor was: not too sweet (I guess my palate is used to cloyingly sweet cocktails!) with a fine grapey flavor and a smack of lime courtesy of the submerged lime wedges. It wasn't too strong, and it was a fine fall libation for sipping slowly while gazing around the Tavern and munching the gratis candied pecans the bartender placed in front of me (delicious, delicious, decicious candied pecans with dried cranberries mixed in. I ate my weight in candied pecans that night).
Soon after my drink arrived, a distinguished gentleman slid into the vacant barstool next to mine. Immediately it became clear he came here often-- all three bartenders rushed over to greet him, and a few moments later even the hostess left her post and slipped behind the bar to say hello. A bartender asked if he wanted his "usual" (don't all diners aspire to have a place where they have a "usual"?); instead, he opted for a plate of Kielbasa with extra sauerkraut and a glass of wine that paired well with that selection (which he let the bartender choose). We struck up a conversation as he ate, discussing his art collection, his day job, and his new condo in the Meatpacking district.
Soon, my cocktail was empty and I had received the summons from the friends I was heading to meet. Though the gentleman offered to buy me another cocktail, I politely declined (I had places to go and people to see!). I requested to close out my tab, and lo and behold, the bartender revealed my drink was "with their compliments." It was an incredible, delightful surprise that brought a goofy smile to my face. I left a large tip, said my goodbyes to the VIP gentleman next to me (who, I'm 99% sure, orchestrated the entire affair), and slipped out into the night.
It was only one cocktail--but it was one of the best nights I've had in a while. My desire for a full Gramercy Tavern meal has only been increased, and I truly can't wait to return.
42 E. 20th Street, at Park Avenue South