It’s been a while. I never really intended to stop writing, it just kind of happened that way. First my computer crashed last summer, which made it obviously difficult to write blog posts. Then the winds of good fortune blew my way and I got a couple of exciting opportunities I couldn’t pass up that occupied all of my time. The most exciting was to join the team at one of the best cocktail bars in the country (and recently announced James Beard finalist) Please Don’t Tell, or PDT for short. So one door closed, and another door—or should I say phone booth—opened. And that brings me to the subject of this piece and the reason for my return to writing on Umamimart.
If you’re a cocktail geek like myself you’re well aware of the recent buzz surrounding PDT as Jim Meehan, the managing partner and guiding force behind the award-winning speakeasy, recently released the PDT Cocktail Book. The term “epic” is tossed around too casually these days, but in this case I don’t hesitate to attach that label to this book. The PDT book features recipes for over 300 classic and original cocktails that have been featured on the PDT menu since it opened.
But it doesn’t stop there. Ironically, the cocktail bar known for its secret entrance opens the door to expose practically every aspect of its operation—recipes for syrups and mixers, bar design, setup, glassware, equipment and ice machines used, even how inventory is arranged and organized in the basement. Not since the Savoy Cocktail Book has a cocktail book featured such a wide breadth of material. The book offers something to everyone from the casual drinker to the aspiring bar owner.
Like I said, epic.
Given my excitement for this book’s release, my long absence from writing, and my involvement at PDT, the idea came to me to blog my way through the PDT book. And since the PDT book features illustrations, I figured it would be a wonderful thing to have a photo accompany each recipe. And who better than my wife Vanessa who does some of the most beautiful cocktail photography I’ve ever seen (so beautiful that some of her photographs were featured in the Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans last Fall). I’ve been itching to write about and become more familiar with the cocktails of the bar I work at, and she’s been itching to do more cocktail photography, so we figured one back would scratch the other.
This inspiration came from Erik Ellestad’s monumental achievement of making each and every cocktail in the Savoy Cocktail Book and writing about it. Considering many of the recipes in the Savoy featured defunct ingredients—ingredients which he somehow managed to will into existence again—Erik’s project was an overwhelmingly audacious one.
Admittedly, my idea is not nearly as ambitious. But it is still a monster of a task considering the sheer volume of recipes to be covered. Loosely estimating, if I feature three cocktails per week (which is not necessarily the plan), the project will take me over two years to complete. And that doesn’t include the inevitable numerous weeks off I’ll need here and there, because I do still need to make money and bartending is still my primary ambition.
Naturally, I had lots of trepidation about embarking on such a project, and I’d be lying if I told you that I’m not fearful of not completing this project. In the end after much deliberation, back-and-forth, and hemming-and-hawing, I decided to pull the trigger--I pray my aim is steady.
So beginning next week and continuing for the weeks (and —good Lord what have I gotten myself into— years) that follow, here’s what you can expect of the PDT Project on Umamimart: 1) Professional instructions for each and every cocktail in the PDT book, 2) an awesome photo of each drink shot by the world’s best cocktail photographer so you can see what the cocktail ought to look like, and 3) general commentary that I hope is both entertaining and informative. I will not cover everything in the book, just the recipes. In essence I intend this project to be an online resource and photographic companion to the illustrated book.
So I invite you to pick up a copy if you don’t already have one and get ready to work through it with me!
*This post is part of a series in which Payman Bahmani takes on the task of making and writing about every cocktail featured in the PDT Cocktail Book, as well as providing an awesome photo of each drink taken by Vanessa Bahmani Photography.
**Got a question? Payman can be found on twitter @paystyle, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or simply drop him a comment below.