By Terry Trucco
School isn’t a word that leaps to mind when we think of The Pierre. But six times a year the drinks team in the hotel’s Two E bar/lounge cooks up a specialty cocktail menu. The night the drinks debut, Two E hosts a free mixology class where patrons can stop by, watch the team led by drinks maestro Sachin Hasan in action, and sample the new cocktails. Forget homework, but you can leave with a recipe or two.
You won’t see signs around the hotel touting the classes. But they’re not a secret, either, if you Like the hotel on Facebook.
We stopped by this week to bone up on the latest course — six classic cocktails refashioned for 21st century tastes.
A row of stylish shot glasses that looked like bud vases dressed the big gold-leaf Two E bar for the occasion. As Hasan explained, the idea was to celebrate key decades at the 82-year-old Pierre, from a 1930 Sazerac updated with Patron Anejo Tequila, Tenneyson Absinthe, Peychauds Bitter and homemade dark brown syrup to My Fair Lady of Café Pierre, channeling the 70s with Bacardi Light Rum, Disaronno Amaretto and Pineapple Juice.
For each specialty menu, the drinks team devises an array of new cocktails built around a theme (a select group of lucky hotel staffers winnow the candidates down to six).
The new drinks are often built around hot new craft bar ingredients the mixologists want to play with. Two cocktails this round feature Tenneyson Absinthe, for example.
We and a couple from the neighborhood with their grown daughter sampled the JP Getty Gimlet – Getty once owned the Pierre – and the Star of Taj, a complex cocktail toasting the hotel’s future with a nod to Taj Hotels, the Pierre’s managers.
Instead of lime juice, the gimlet goes lemony mixing Stolichnaya Lemon with Beefeater Gin and St. Germain. Though still evocative of the Fred & Ginger 30s, the result is lighter, cleaner and less syrupy gimlets made with Rose’s Lime Juice.
Star of Taj is its polar opposite – a complex, ultra-contemporary concoction that would have seemed hallucinatory in the 1930s: Bombay Sapphire Gin, Chartreuse Green, Crème de Cassis, Passion Fruit, Orange Juice, an Indian spice mix of curry leaves, cardamon and peppercorn and Tenneyson Absinthe. It even includes a flambé moment to release the flavors of the spices. It was terrific if zingy drinks do it for you.
As promised we left with a recipe. The Pierre Sparkle is clean, dry and fizzy. And yes, you can try this at home.
1 oz of Tanqueray Ten
1/2 oz Lychee Liqueur
1/4 oz St. Germain
Shake and Pour into a Tulip Glass
Top with Champagne and Orange twist
Two E at the Pierre, 2 East 61st Street and Fifth Avenue; 212 838-8000. 82 Years of the Pierre cocktails available through November 20; all drinks cost $16.