"Mixology Trend: Tableside Cocktail Service" by Gary Walther
"When mixologists whip up their exotic concoctions behind the bar, you miss out on a good show if you order cocktails tableside. But now you don’t have to miss a single flourish—a number of city restaurants are bringing their mixology magic right into the dining room and doing so in style, with Mad Men–era drinks carts and posh gueridons.
The handsome, open-plan room called Bar Seven Five (75 Wall St., 212-590-1234), at the Andaz Wall Street hotel, doesn’t have a bar per se because it has taken the tableside drink concept as far as it can go, by eliminating the bar as a room divider. Bar Seven Five consists of six freestanding drink stations, gray-green fiberglass counters (like kitchen islands) that accommodate four seated and eight to 10 standing entourages. The bartender takes your order, returns with the necessary spirits and other ingredients in a compartmented, hoop-handled basket, and the performance begins.
Bar Seven Five is keen on fresh ingredients, like real maple syrup and lemons squeezed daily and cognoscenti accents (Peychaud’s Bitters from New Orleans), and uses the tableside for razzmatazz. The bartender commences building the house martini by spraying Lagavulin, a singlemalt Scotch, into the glass and concludes it by flaming an orange peel to caramelize the oil and cause a light sprinkling to fall into the drink. “Pomp and circumstance,” the mixologist says as he packs up.
At Noir (151 E. 50th St., 212-753-1144), tableside service plays into the room’s gilded-past aura. The space has housed an opera house and then the Versailles, where Edith Piaf made her American debut. It recently reopened after an extensive renovation that raised the ceiling to create the feel of an other-era music hall, a corral of tables flanked by rows of enormous button-tufted half-moon banquettes.
Noir uses a cherry-veneered drinks cart bristling with curved stainless-steel rails and two cutouts on top for ice buckets (which you can buy for $2,406 at centralrestaurant.com). Noir only serves ultrapremium spirits cocktails from the cart—Stolichnaya’s Elit for the vodka martini, Plymouth for the gin variant. It also engages in its own brand of cocktail wizardry, using The Macallan IceBall Maker, a contraption that turns an ice cube into an ice sphere. Order the single-malt, 12-year-old Yamazaki Scotch to sample it.
Other Manhattan watering holes that have wheeled out tableside drink service are Eleven Madison Park (11 Madison Ave., 212-889-0905), serving Manhattans, Maloney & Porcelli (37 E. 50th St., 212-750-2233), offering martinis, and The NoMad Hotel’s The Library (1170 Broadway, 212-796-1500), where guests can mix drinks themselves.”
Currently Sipping: Ardbeg Ten