Saloon Stakeouts: Painkiller

Are you ready to kill the pain?

Just in time for a tropical heatwave and many of the country’s best Japanese training-seeking bartenders sweeping into NYC, one of the most exciting bar openings of the year is scheduled for this week, and it just so happens to be tiki-themed. Painkiller, from Dutch Kills’ Richie Boccato and Giuseppe Gonzales, has flipped the former Sasha Petraske-owned East Side Company Bar into a bamboo-walled underground lair that feels miles from the city and yet all at once very New York. The bar celebrates Manhattan as “the best island,” said Giuseppe, surrounded by images of topless, tan island ladies.

I don’t want to give too much away about Painkiller just yet–the Chinatown bar officially opens Thursday night–but I can tell you to expect: fresh-cut fruit, house-made syrups and orgeat,  industrial blenders, a cooler full of shaved ice, grafitti artwork by “Style Wars” legends, and badass light effects. The menu will be of the choose-your-own-adventure variety (simply tell the bartenders how you like your drink) but based on the recipes of Trader Vic’s and Don the Beachcomber. Expect incredibly strong drinks and wild garnishes–you’ve been warned!

Giuseppe said he and Richie got the idea for bar over free hot dogs at Rudy’s, the Hell’s Kitchen dive, so naturally, Painkiller will have free hot dogs too. Which will surely come in handy after all that frothy tiki-ness with shots of flaming 151.

Painkiller, 49 Essex St.

Scandalous spray-painted velvet by NOC 167, a "Style Wars" '70s legend.

The Painkiller logo underneath the tempered glass bar. The logo might look familiar if you know the NYC punk scene.

Elsewhere in the Liquiverse…

A new cocktail menu arrives tonight at The Breslin.

  • Aisha Sharpe of Contemporary Cocktails unleashes a new cocktail menu at The Breslin at the Ace Hotel tonight. See the full menu below.
  • My prediction of “all-tiki-everything” is already coming true–NYC is finally getting a tiki cocktail bar! Food & Wine reports that Painkiller (from Dutch Kills‘ Richard Boccato and Giuseppe Gonzales!) will open at the former site of the East Side Company Bar on Essex Street in March. The bar will combine the vibe of 1970s New York with 1940s tiki culture. Stay tuned!
  • If you haven’t seen it yet, PDT’s Jim Meehan was a guest on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon last night, mixing gin tonics and tequila highballs.
  • On Wednesday Jan. 13, Benedictine is hosting the finals for it’s “Alchemist of Our Age” cocktail competition celebrating the liqueur’s 500th anniversary. The throwdown takes place at the Hearst Tower in NYC, with Dave Wondrich selecting the winner. First place prize is a stand-alone profile in Esquire‘s March issue. Finalists are: Jackson Cannon (Boston), Damon Dyer (NYC), Brandon Clements (San Francisco), Lynn House (Chicago), and Daniel Victory (New Orleans).
  • The cocktail industry was in a tizzy this week over the sudden shortage of Angostura Bitters, a staple product at most bars. Reportedly the plant that makes the secret-formula bitters in Trinidad and Tobago had a brief shutdown.  Many bar managers are either paying exorbitant prices (such as $65 for a 20-oz. bottle) for the bitters, or they have been told it will be weeks before their orders arrive. Expect to see different brands of bitters dashed in your next Manhattan.
  • One more reason for cocktail bars to use bottled soda: an International Journal of Microbiology study found half of soda fountains analyzed contained fecal bacteria. Now you know.

The Breslin Cocktails, all $12:

Liquid Swords (rye whiskey, orange curacao, Aperol, Green Chartreuse, with an orange zest)

Lust for Life (gin with lavender syrup, mint, fresh lemon juice, topped with soda water)

Rush of Blood to the Head (prosecco with blood orange liqueur, hibiscus syrup, and lemon zest)

London Calling (vodka with Ribena-Blackcurrant Syrup, fresh lemon juice, topped with prosecco)

Kingdom Come (blended scotch whisky, orange essence, black tea syrup, fresh lemon juice, egg white)

Pablo Honey (blanco tequila with spiced agave nectar and fresh lime juice)

Beggar’s Banquet (bourbon whiskey with maple syrup, fresh lemon juice, aromatic bitters, topped with ale)

Rattle and Hum (rum with spices, brown sugar and butter and hot water)

The Breslin Gin & Tonics:

The Classic (Tanqueray Gin with tonic and a lime)

The Garden Tonic (Hendrick’s Gin with cucumber, celery bitters and tonic)

The Tonic and Grapefruit (Beefeater 24 with grapefruit bitters, tonic and grapefruit zest)

Dizzy Recap: Absolut Exceptional Experiences

Absolut sure knows how to entertain.

With all of the hubbub [brouhaha? hullabaloo?] reverberating from last week’s Repeal Day Ball, I didn’t have time to report on the Absolut Exceptional Experiences bash held in NYC earlier this month. Hundreds of [highly attractive, I must say] guests packed into a warehouse event space at 508 W. 37th St. to witness Absolut’s launch of its new ad campaign photographed by Ellen Von Unwerth and featuring celebs such as Kate Beckinsale and Zooey Deschanel.

Drinks included Absolut and tonic, the Absolut Citron cosmo, the Absolut bloody mary, and the Absolut Mandarin crush. There was no lack of entertainment, as scantilly-clad ladies danced on stages designed to look like live versions of the new ads while intermittent performances (woman on stilts, for instance) went on throughout the evening.

Giuseppe Gonzalez and Richard Boccato of Dutch Kills were featured at a satellite bar, mixing drinks with Absolut Citron, Mandarin, and Peppar for a sizable crowd. Contemporary Cocktails managed the bar service and staffing, and everyone seemed to be having a blast.

According to The New York Times, Absolut, sold under the umbrella of Pernod Ricard USA, is planning to introduce ads in collaboration with director Spike Jonze next year. Let’s hope there’s a party for that, too!