October 7th, 2006
Warm gin and Iron Chefs at District
I love gin, especially Bombay Sapphire gin, especially when it’s free. That’s why I decided to don my club clothes and go to the Bombay Sapphire “Perfect Pairings” night at District this week. The event, co-sponsored by GQ magazine, involved an Iron Chef-style cookoff between chefs Andy Husbands (Tremont 647, Sister Sorrell) and Marc Orfaly (Pigalle, Marco). Teaming up with the two chefs were two bartenders — Candace Smith of Excelsior was paired with Husbands, while Jackson Cannon of Eastern Standard was paired with Orfaly — who concocted Bombay Sapphire-based cocktails to accompany each dish. The chefs had a weird array of ingredients to work with, including cucumbers, steamed clams, Frosted Flakes and Minute Rice, and 20 minutes to whip up three dishes. Truth be told, the dishes smelled wonderful, and the cocktails Jackson and Candace mixed looked cool and mouthwatering. If only I could have been the judge!
Instead, I stood amid the crowd, sampling little phyllo-and-goat cheese thingies and drinking “Inspired Cocktails” that were being liberally distributed by attractive waitresses in short, strapless dresses the color of the Sapphire gin bottle. The girls were nice, but the drinks were warm. Was there an ice shortage? The bartender who made my first drink, a Martini, stirred the mixture over about five cubes for 10 seconds. The temperature of the resulting cocktail was perfect … if I had been drinking red wine. I also tried a Strawberry Basil cocktail. The flavors were nice, but again, the drink was tepid. Bombay’s official mixologist, Jamie Walker, was there. But he didn’t seem horrified by District’s lackadaisical production of his creations as, say, chefs Husbands and Orfaly would be if their dishes languished under a heat lamp before being served.
Look, I’m not an idiot. I understand the persuasive powers of plentiful free booze. And Bombay certainly doesn’t need to convince me to drink their gin. I already do. It’s really good stuff. But if they’re going to promote their brand of gin as a worthy complement to top-notch cuisine, shouldn’t they bother to show their potential customers the beauty of a properly made cocktail?