Dead Rabbit is like a house of alcoholic curiosities. Upon entering, the doorman is sopping up his coffee that had been spilled by someone other than himself. He admits he is going on a 20 hour day, yet is very friendly and points us to the pub on the first floor. “Actually, can we go to the parlor?” Kat says. The doorman hands us a buzzer, the kind that Applebee’s uses to summon its waiting guests, and instructs us to be discrete with it as others who are waiting ahead of us are too drunk and will not be let up. Kat conceals the buzzer in her purse and we assess the pub. I marvel at the amount of suits in the building, noting these patrons were likely here drinking since the trading day closed and astonished they are still standing. Almost instantly the device vibrates and we hop over to our kind usher and climb the flight of stairs to find an almost empty bar.
The place is cozy yet roomy with ample wood decor. A waitress greets us with comic book themed menus (I learn the menu books change seasonally) and relays the inspiration for the current book “Resurrection” as the life of John Morrissey, leader of the Dead Rabbits during prohinition. I flip through the comic without reading it – I am more concerned with the cocktails. She sets two tea cups in front of us with house punch, a welcome amuse bouche. Just enough to wet the palate, the concoction is light and medium sweet. Not surprisingly I am in the mood for mezcal but see nothing on the list that satisfies. Instead we order two cocktails and will decide who prefers each beverage.
Both arrive in etched rocks glasses on a big cube. The Vanishing Act (plantation pineapple rum, cutty sark scotch, pineau des charentes, dry curacao, fig, burlesque and decanter bitters) features the pineapple rum; it is fruity, refreshing, and boozy. I know this will be mine. The Down and Out (laphroig 10 year scotch, amontillado sherry, CioCiaro amaro, green chartreuse, earl grey tea, mole and orange bitters) is smokey, scotch-forward, with a hint of the zucca amaro made from rhubarb for complexity. The cocktails have so many ingredients I find them slightly over-complicated. These two work, yet nothing else strikes me for another round so I present the request for mezcal. In return is the Single Gear (salt, reposado tequila, mezcal, amaro zucca). It hits the spot, herbaceous enough to be interesting, refreshing enough to follow pineapple rum, and smokey enough to satisfy my desire for mezcal.
We ask about all the small bottles on the bar to find that they are filled with the liquors that go into the complex cocktail list rather than keeping full bottles on the bar like chartreuse, zucca, other amaros, etc. Admittedly that would be a lot of full bottles, though I note what a pain it would be to refill each small vessel.
Dead Rabbit’s complexity in its cocktails, plethora of bottles and bitters, and three separate and disparate floors explains the titled it has been given of Best Bar in the World.