An establishment called The Rum House would not normally be my first choice for drinks. It’s the title. And the location – right off Times Square. I don’t have anything against rum, just like I don’t have anything against vanilla. But given the choice in a city that serves everything, a girl wants her whiskey like she wants her chocolate.
I was happy to discover that the title was a bit of unintended irony - The Rum House does whiskey.
I had been sitting at the bar for about 5 minutes watching an enthusiastic bartender muddle, stir, garnish, and pour before it struck me that he had yet to make anything with rum. He was making Manhattans. And Old Fashioneds. All beautifully mixed and poured into a glass with just the right bit of lemon or orange peel rubbed around the edge.
Then he reached for a bottle of Laddie 10 for a cocktail. A Manhattan with Scotch? He spritzed a little something in the glass, then poured the Scotch and Ramazotti Amaro in, and rubbed the rim with lemon peel.
It’s called a Barrymore. I looked down at my glass of plain whiskey and decided the night required some dessert.
“Sometimes when you get a little busy, you don’t make it quite right,” the bartender said, apologizing for the one I had watched him make during the previous drink rush.
I didn’t understand what he meant until he lit a glass on fire.
The spritz of yellow chartreuse he had done in the previous drink was a shortcut. In my glass, he poured a bit, swirled it, then lit it, making the glass flame a vibrant blue before he dropped a lemon peel in it that sent up a citrus flash. After that, he made the drink. The glass is still warm when served, but the drink is cool and refreshing. It has a hint of peat, and it is just slightly sweet.
It’s dangerously wonderful. Turns out a little too wonderful for a weeknight, but ordering three would not seem like such a bad idea until the next morning. For the moment, I was enjoying the show.
Two tourists were seated next to me, also watching in fascination.
“Is this your regular haunt?” One asked when he found out I lived in Brooklyn. I almost wanted to tell him yes and make him feel like he discovered some neighborhood piano bar two steps off Times Square where all the New Yorkers gathered.
“First time,” I admitted. “But I will be back.”