Good news for anyone who gets annoyed by all the pomp and circumstance involved with getting a decent drink in the 21st century: Modern America’s love affair with Prohibition-era speakeasy culture may finally be over.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported on the “new breed of watering hole” that is steadily gaining favor within the esteemed cocktail-making community. These places aim to reduce the amount of fussiness commonly associated with so many of today’s drinking dens, yet still maintain a degree of sophistication with regard to recipes and ingredients.
We’re talking about the “haute dive,” which the Journal defines as a sort of mashup, “combining the relaxed atmosphere of a dive or pub with the panache of craft cocktails (minus a superfluous ingredient or three).” A place without so much pretense, in other words, but one where you can still find “top-shelf booze, fresh squeezed fruit juice and impressively large ice cubes.”
Some of the locations the Journal mentions as examples include some of our favorite New York City hangouts, like Boilermaker, home of the Trailer Park Negroni, a cocktail that perfectly embodies the “haute dive” idea in itself.
The sleekly designed Porchlight also gets a mention. In an original Food Republic video taped last summer, Porchlight proprietor Danny Meyer neatly sums up the more laid-back mission of the place: “It’s not about, ‘How cool can I be when I’m pulling your shot of espresso?’ Or ‘How distant can I be when I’m shaking your cocktail?’ It’s about, let’s go back to when Clancy was tending bar at your favorite pub and remember that this cocktail serves one purpose, and that’s to make you have a better experience.”
Below, watch Porchlight bartender Nicholas Bennett make a mean Sazerac with cognac — and without being very snooty about it: