Love & Sex

Drink This Cocktail: The Judson

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The bartender at Gramercy Tavern on day-drinking, gin, and covert affairs.

Krissy, Bartender

Gramercy Tavern
420 E 20th Street, New York

Let's talk about this drink.
As we all know, temperatures are getting crazy. We just wanted something to kick back with. It's not super-complicated — it's refreshing, it has a float of lambrusco, so it's a cool flavor, and it looks great. Someone will order it and there’s a snowball effect — people see it and they want it. It's just one of those drinks that everyone wants to order. It gives you that icy chill. 

So, you scheduled this interview, about cocktails, for 10:30 a.m. Any thoughts on good drinks for daytime?
I love daytime drinking. The light makes things feel happy, and you’ve got the whole rest of your day to wander around doing whatever. I'm a big fan of a Bloody Marys in the morning. I'll drink them with gin, and they're delicious. Just a Bloody Mary and some grease. 

What's the perfect afternoon drink? The Judson?
A perfect afternoon drink, for me, is an I.P.A. I'm from California, and we just love them. As far as cocktails go, gin is my friend. I love gin. I think gin with juice is delicious. 

Who are you, Snoop Dogg?
I totally aspire to be Snoop Dogg — that's my secret goal. I think gin really is versatile. And it's a sad thing when people think they don't like gin. I'd say you could start with a Judson and then maybe go with the Rickshaw, which is a basil-and-vodka drink. I don't think there's a time of day when drinking is not acceptable, anyway. 

Gramercy Tavern is a classy place. You must see a lot of people here on serious dates. What's a good date drink?
For a first date, we have this drink called the Orange Blossom. It has an orange twist and it just looks sexy. For women, it's a good place to start. And for guys, Manhattans or Negronis. Negronis are sexy no matter what. If you come in and order a Negroni, I like you. 

Is there anything else someone can order to show off? Maybe talk shop with a bartender?
The first is a Sazerac. It's a classic but it's a serious drink. And I love when people order a Last Word or Corpse Reviver. They're very trendy and all the classics are coming back. But the Last Word is a cocktail that's gin-based, very herbal, and there are a bunch of different ways to make it. And Aviations are great as well. They have that beautiful purple glow. 

If someone is in here on a first date, they're probably nervous. Do you ever try to help them out?
People will often share it with me if they're nervous: "I'm on a first date — I've never met him. I hope it goes well." But it's a friendly spot — a lot of people who come here on first dates are people I know. Still, we do get a lot of people who probably met online and this is their first date. And it's so cute — you can always tell that a date is going to go well if the guy doesn't order a drink while he waits. I think it's so cute, and classy. Or if he is going order a drink, he'll order her one too. Like, a guy will order a glass of wine and get all nervous, "I want to get her one too, but I don't want it to be warm when she gets here. Can you have the bottle ready?" Those things are super-cute.  

What about less cute dates? You have to get some of those.  
There's one guy who comes in with a different date every week. And you watch and want say, "No! Don't! Stop!" And I've seen it go every which way — I've seen the girl leave without even finishing her drink, and I've seen him leave with the girl. It's weird. There's somebody for everybody, obviously, but sometimes you're watching and you're like, "There is no way this is happening tonight." They have no chemistry, they don't know what to talk about, they're fiddling. 

What do people tend to order when they're on a bad date?
Guys move straight to bourbon, and women stop drinking on a bad date. They put their drink aside and let the other person finish. Or the cell-phone thing: "Oh, I just got a text message from my friend. She’s in the neighborhood — how strange!" 

The emergency-exit call. Does anyone give you TMI on their bad dates? Or in life in general?
I've had a person tell me he was cheating on his wife, and that the person he was cheating with was going meet him here. I don't want to know that your affair is taking place right in front of me. That makes me so uncomfortable. We get lumped into the therapist role. People think because we're in a suit behind a bar, we can absorb anything, but that kind of thing bums me out. 

Has anyone every tried to pick you up?
I don't wear my wedding ring when I'm behind the bar because it hits on things, but I don't get hit on here. It might be partially the uniform, which is so flattering [laughs]. But I also think it's kind of a classy place, so people aren't trying to pick you up. 

I've heard from a lot of the female bartenders that they don't get hit on nearly as much as their male counterparts. Do you think there's truth to that?
I absolutely agree with that. There was one male bartender here who got someone’s number every night. I do think it's a power thing. Guy are sexy when they're bartenders because they're in power. 

The Judson
2 oz. Cruzan aged rum
3/4oz lime
.5oz cane sugar
large pinch of mint

Muddle the mint and lime juice, then add the cane sugar and rum. Fill a highball glass with unshed ice. Swizzle, add ice. Float lambrusco and garnish with mint sprig.