This could possibly be the hardest five stars a bar has ever earned, because man-oh-man, was this just not my normal cup of tea.
After dinner at Canteen, we decided to head over to Rye because, well, it's named Rye. Let me explain. If you're from the East Coast, especially the New York/New England/Pennsylvania area, you probably have some ancestral memory lodged deep in your mind about the virtues of rye whiskey. For those of us from the Northeast, Rye is our historical tipple of choice. Unfortunately, as a result of many years of marketing from the bourbon and vodka vendors, this perfect grain distillate had faded out of vogue.
But there is hope - in the late 1990s, Anchor Distillery launched a single malt rye whiskey - and since then a number of great rye whiskeys have come back onto the scene. So with this in mind, when I heard about Rye, I decided to make a trip out there.
The bar is beautiful, more East Coast than West - Scandinavian designed with wood accents everywhere. Down to every detail, the place screams "The Bubble Is Back! Long Live The Internet Bubble!"
But just on the promise that they may have rye, we went in.
The crowd was, well, horrible. Yuppie trash that decided to go out slumming in the Tendernob. Screeching bleached blonds and boisterous jock assholes vying for attention and hoping to get laid.
But they had rye, and we could get two seats at the corner of the bar near the door in case we needed to make a quick getaway.
It was at that point that I recalled what I thought about Paris: a beautiful city, if you could just get rid of the damned Parisians. Same thing goes for Rye.
Our bartender, Jennifer, was the saving grace of the night. In between churning out 7&7s, Rum and (Diet) Cokes, 7 and Waters, Gin and Tonics, Stoli Vanillas and Ginger Ale and other drinks better suited for frat parties than a sophisticated bar like this, she served up some of the most amazing Manhattans (Jim Beam Rye, Noilly Prat Sweet (Red) Vermouth, Peychoud Bitters and a single sour cherry) - possibly the best I have ever had. She admitted that she had a soft spot for that cocktail, and she treated it with the respect that it deserved.
We went in planning on having one, or at the most two drinks total, as we didn't hit the ATM before heading in (yes, they are cash only for now). By the time we left, we had each had four - because I don't think either we or the bartenders wanted the night to end.
As we left, we mentioned to Jennifer that she was the saving grace for the bar because she made the crowd there "tolerable".
So, here is the breakdown:
The bar - The atmosphere, architecture and sense of style is great, and the inclusion of both an outside cage (where we saw a blond chickie climbing up and comically (to us) trying to sexily writhe for her man) for smokers and a pool table warrants a definite 5 out of 5. Hopefully next time we'll see someone smack into the wall-length mirror thinking there is another bar on the other side of the wall.
The bartenders - Everyone we had there was amazing, not only making great Manhattans, but muddling a pair of perfect Basil Gimlets (vodka) and a house drink called a Gold Rye Fizz - a rye drink with mandarin oranges, rye, bitters and a splash of cream as a substitute for the missing Advocaat/Eierlikor/Egg Liquor. Jennifer gets extra points for gracefully dropping a whole lemon in a martini glass full of Absolut Citron - the perfect "lemon drop" in my book. 5 out of 5
The selection - 5 out of 5 - this is a hard one. The beer was well selected, but I still winced when seeing someone order a can of Tecate (the crowd was mostly drinking Stella, but a good number of Chimays came out of the fridge). A number of good whiskeys were available with the well rye being Jim Beam Rye (yellow bottle). Some bimbettes wanted Crown Royal, which they were out of, or didn't carry... which thoroughly distressed them but amused us.
The crowd - 1 out of 5, and if I could give lower scores, I would. Loud, annoying, drunk and the sort of people that makes me reconsider ever going back there, even though I loved the place. Once this crowd finds the "next greatest thing" I am sure it will be a much more tolerable group of folks frequenting the bar.