Mon Oct 27 2008
Photograph: Roxana Marroquin
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
Of all the gimmicks that Manhattan's neospeakeasies use to stay under the radar, PDT may have the cleverest—and the most affected. The unmarked entrance to the year-and-a-half-old saloon is hidden behind an old wooden phone booth inside the unprepossessing Crif Dogs eatery on St. Marks Place. Pick up the receiver and a hostess opens the back wall of the booth. She'll receive you warmly, particularly if you have a reservation (recommended, though single stools at the bar are not impossible to score on weeknights). However you feel about this precious procedure, and the bar's twee name (PDT = "please don't tell"), it pays to get inside. The vibe in the small taxidermy-strewn space is cozy and laid-back, with a youthful, casual crowd that embraces mixologist Jim Meehan's elite cocktail creations and the haute hot dogs from next door with equal gusto. The old-fashioned—made with bacon-infused Four Roses bourbon—has justly become the joint's best-known drink. The smoky marriage of bacon and booze is cushioned by the sweet addition of maple syrup. Other nips (mostly $12 apiece) are equally delectable, including the light and tart Paddington, a judicious combination of rum, Lillet Blanc, grapefruit juice, orange marmalade and absinthe. The pisco-sour--like Judgment Day is a pleasing, frothy mix of citrus, allspice and floral St. Germain. The approachable staff is happy to talk you through any libation on the menu, and there's no skimping on service. When we pointed out that our bartender was making our Melon Stand (gin, Aperol, watermelon water, lemon juice) with Tanqueray instead of the Plymouth promised on the menu, he apologetically threw out the drink and began building the potion anew. That kind of dedication makes getting in worth the effort.