By Dane Feldman
Photos by Dane Feldman.
Welcome to an extra special edition of Thirsty Thursday here on Dish + Drink. This week is Unprepared Week on BTR and while I must say that I am certainly not prepared for the final seven episodes of AMC’s Mad Men, a selection of bars and restaurants here in New York City are doing all that they can to prepare.
It may not be Restaurant Week, but diners and fans of the show alike are taking Mad Men Dining Week (Mar 23-29) seriously, myself included.
So, on Tuesday I ventured to The Gander on 18th Street between 5th and 6th Ave during happy hour with my best sport coat and what I hoped was a solid Roger Sterling smize.
The Gander is a new American restaurant that offers brunch, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Their Mad Men Dining Week special does not include dinner, so I ordered from their regular dinner menu, which includes innovative appetizers, pastas, and main courses.
I had the tubetti pasta with duck confit, duck yolk, citrus, and black pepper and could not have been more satisfied. The duck was juicy and tender and the flavors complemented each other nicely.
For dessert, my cohort and I went for the Creme Brulee Semifreddo with anise milk chocolate, walnut, bacon, and whiskey. If you like sweet and salty together, like salted caramel, this dessert is a can’t miss.
Of course, my trip was really all about the cocktails and The Gander is the perfect place to check out. Their standard $10 happy hour cocktails (a Moscow mule and a sazerac) are impressive enough, but their full cocktail menu is both pricy and relatively extensive. Cocktails there range from $12-$18 and include ingredients like pisco, rhubarb bitters, scotch punch, and, of course, egg whites.
But the Mad Men cocktails are what we came for and The Gander offers them as a flight: two full cocktails for $19.69. The first, called Betty’s BB Gun, contains bourbon, Benedictine, cognac, honey, and lemon. The second, El Tuxedo del Don, is a combination of tequila, dry vermouth, maraschino, mescal, and orange bitters.
The flavors in both cocktails are vastly different from each other and are absolutely top notch. The Betty’s BB Gun is a drink I intend to perfect myself in the immediate future. My only qualm is that I felt a bit like the personalities ought to have been switched. Don’s drink should be whiskey based and served in a minimalistic rocks glass as the Betty’s BB Gun was, while Betty’s should be served in a coupe glass as the El Tuxedo del Don was. Nevertheless, both cocktails were delicious and I would strongly encourage The Gander to include both on their menus permanently.
The wait staff at this restaurant are all extremely friendly, attentive, and have most likely been classically trained. Patrons will feel like kings and queens for sure, but there’s nothing stuffy about it. This is a place to come to be pampered with just a hint of pretension.
Beyond that, The Gander absolutely encompasses the 1960s in its mid-century modern decor. From the lighting to the art to the seating areas, everything about this place screams hangout for the men of Madison Avenue’s heyday. Escape the office and come here for lunch, liquid lunch, after work drinks. Get here when you can and come here often. There’s no tiring of this kind of food, cocktailing, or service.