A drink recommendation for the hottest day of the year from Madam Geneva.
Laura, bar manager
4 Bleecker Street, New York
Do you create all these cocktails?
Some are my original recipes, but this one is actually one of our signatures. The jam and gin has been so popular that we change it seasonally. The pastry chef makes all the new jams in house. It's kind of a dessert.
Why is this the perfect drink to have this weekend?
A gin drink is always perfect when it's insanely hot. People might think they're too sweet because of the jam, but they're actually just really refreshing. It's like ninety-three degrees today, so this is a good drink to cool off with.
It's perfect in every way. If a guy wanted to send a pretty girl a drink at the bar, what would you recommend?
The jam cocktails are kind of perfect. They're girly. They're fun and colorful and delicious. I would recommend this.
What if I wanted to send a man drink?
That's tricky. A beer is always good, but for a special man, I'd go with something classic. Something Don Draper-esque, like a Sazerac or an Old Fashioned. Something with whiskey or bourbon.
What kind of clientele do you get in here?
Dates. So many dates. Especially during the week. It's a really intimate space, so it's a good spot to get to know someone. And then on the weekend we get a lot of birthday-party celebrations.
What's the perfect birthday-celebration drink?
I actually love to make mini margarita shots. I send those to birthday girls. Very potent.
Can you tell when the dates are going well?
Oh yes. I've sat through a lot of bad dates. You can tell if people met on the internet, or if it's a blind date. They come in and don't necessarily recognize each other right away. If they order food, it's pretty much always going well. If they order a third drink, it’s tremendous. If they stay all night and just keep drinking, they probably need to move on. Sometimes when people are nervous on first dates, they try to sit as close to the bartender as possible, like as a safety blanket. So I get a lot of dates right in front of me, and I feel like kind of a third wheel.
Do you ever play guardian-angel bartender? Maybe help break the ice?
Yeah. A girl came in a couple of weeks ago and said, "I was here a year and a half ago on the worst date ever. You recognized him and from the way you said hi, I knew he came in here all the time with other girls.” I didn't mean to do that, like call him out, but apparently I did, and she was really grateful for it.
Is there a bartender's code for that kind of thing?
I would never call someone out in front of their date. Not intentionally.
Have you seen a lot of guys bringing in a new girl every week?
Yeah. Girls too, actually. Repeat customers on different dates. One time I had a guy come in here on a blind date, and he asked me to give him a wink if I thought his date was cute. Stuff like that happens.
Has anyone ever dumped their lame date and tried to pick you up?
I've gotten phone numbers and stuff, but to be honest I think that men bartending get a lot more of that kind of thing. I got hit on way more as a cocktail waitress than I do as a bartender. Maybe it's a power thing, an ingrained gender thing, but whenever I'm working with male bartenders, there are just girls throwing numbers at them.
What can someone order that will really impress you?
Anyone who orders tequila on the rocks is impressive to me, or mezcal. We're a gin bar, and I love gin, but when someone asks for anything tequila-specific, I'm like "Oh, you're one of my people."
I love tequila on the rocks with lime, but we actually had a comment saying tequila on the rocks is a major faux-pas.
There are all different schools of thought about spirits. There's a fine line between telling someone what you know as a bartender, what you think is best, and what they actually want. You never want to cross that line to where you're just preaching.
Is there anything people can order that make you cringe?
Sure. We don't have Red Bull in this bar, but people ask for vodka-Red Bulls all the time. And you know, Long Island Iced Teas. Those are the drinks that make bartenders roll their eyes. We try not to judge people on their cocktail choices. But the next time you're pounding back vodka-sodas, remember that they don't taste like anything. Why not try one of the special cocktails we have?
Blueberry Jam Gin Cocktail
2 oz. Beefeater Gin
1 oz. Lemon Juice
1 oz. Simple Syrup
1 spoonful of blueberry jam
Shake together, and strain over ice in a rocks glass. Top with a spoonful of jam.