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Friday, May 24, 2013

Peachy Picks Orient-Express Our Coverage Sponsored by Fresh Origins

Owner Osman Cakir

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If you were born too late for the original train, have no fear because the current incarnation on West 11th Street is decidedly more fun!  Not every cocktail bar in New York is the same, some are just simply far superior and you know this one was excellent if it got Peachy Deegan all the way to its location from her beloved Upper East Side...actually this place would fit right in up there as it oozes class and respectability.  In the current resurgence of The Great Gatsby, this spot is all jazz-age all the time, and we believe Fitzgerald himself would be happy drinking and writing away here, and drinking, and drinking.  We warn you that the cocktails are exceedingly attractive and you'll want at least three.  Or five.
Owner Osman Cakir is a total professional and demonstrates total pride that is justified.  Growing up in Istanbul as a little boy, Osman grew up 20 miles from the last stop of the real Orient-Express.  He also owns Turks and Frogs next to this, and that was first an antique shop starting in 2003 before becoming a wine bar in 2004.   It was one of the first in the city of its kind.   Opened in 2010, Orient-Express is in a building approximately 100 years old, and was previously a laundry mat believe it or not.   He has attended to every last detail in creating this venue to resemble a train car, including the curved ceilings and all creative details you'll encounter right up to the racks and luggage.  A european theme is evident and the spot is intimate.
Sam Ziar is the ultimate mixologist right down to the appropriate tattoos you'll see on his arms.  He was equally welcoming right away and we wasted no time getting down to the business of cocktails.
Peachy Deegan thought it would be fun to start with Death on the Orient Express: Absinthe, Becherovka (pine, black licorice flavor), Prosecco.  The strong flavors combined with the bubbles were a celebratory beginning to a wonderful evening and paradoxically made us feel more alive.  A cheerful lemon rind danced in the bubble spa of the Marie Antoinette glass, which is a staple.  We don't need to tell you which part of her it is modeled after; we know you are smart enough to figure THAT out yourself.
When you drink, you need to eat.  Particularly when cocktails are as strong as this...and you want them to be strong.  There is a lot on the news right now of poor venues substituting bad alcohol in bars and we can assure you that does not happen here.  She is not Peachy Vegan.  She is Peachy Deegan and she adored the Charcuterie Plate with Accoutrement.  From top left going clockwise you see dried garlic sausage, duck truffle mousse (decadently creamy!), cured beef, jambon de bayonne otherwise known as prosciutto, dijon mustard with black olives and pork country pate.  Each was magnificent in its own right and was ideal to nibble on inbetween cocktail sips.
Next in the cocktail batting order for Peachy was the Agatha V: Nolet's Gin, Lemon and House made Grapefruit Thyme Soda.  It was nostalgic and fresh, with the right amount of zip in it.  A Chicken Panini pressed with Coriender, fresh mozzarella, and braised onions served with a small side salad was also a steady companion to the cocktail flow.
It was exactly as you'd want a sandwich to be!
Truth be told at the end of the day between the two of us we tried half the cocktail menu.  We were ambitious as you know...From Russia with Love concluded the official cocktail venture for Peachy-anything with rosewater rinse sounds fantastic for spring, right!  Russian standard vodka, ginger, lime and that rosewater rinse combined for one firework of a cocktail!  
Osman joined us at the conclusion for dessert-he must have been reading because it was CHOCOLATE, one of our four food groups.   He likes to drink gin martinis, so we said we'd have what he's having...
Our esteemed panelist adds:
In New York, there is no shortage of cocktail bars, that's for sure! But if you're looking for a truly unique, memorable experience, complete with fantastic cocktails, excellent ambiance, and warm, accommodating staff, you simply must head to Orient Express! Nestled on West 11th St. between Greenwich St. & Washington St., Orient Express is that rare New York find - a place where top-notch quality, atmosphere, and hospitality combine to create an experience that will make you want to return again and again. Named for the famed train featured in countless novels and movies, Orient Express is truly an escape from the everyday grind of Manhattan. Owner Osman Cakir told us that he likes to take people from daily city life and make them think they're somewhere else, and he has certainly achieved this goal. From the moment you walk through the door, it's like taking a step back in time. The curved ceilings, dark wood walls, faux windows, and luggage racks (each stacked with vintage suitcases), echo the inside of an Orient Express rail car, and the dim lighting gives the long, narrow room, a very intimate feel.
 And then there are the cocktails! Each of the hand-crafted beverages is named for something to do with the Orient Express, from the names of movies and novels featuring the train to actual Orient Express passengers. I had the pleasure of sampling a number of them, and would be hard-put to select my favorite! First I tried the Danube, a mix of Ketel 1 Vodka, lime juice, mint, and fresh cucumber soda. It was delicious - light and refreshing, and a perfect drink for a warm spring or summer night. 
 Next, I simply had to sample the Mata Hari, based on the name alone! Happily, though, the drink lived up to the excitement of its name. A mix of Bulleit Bourbon, Mineral Mezcal, lemon juice, agave, and fresh ginger beer, the Mata Hari was tangy and intriguing, with a zesty, ginger-y finish. At the recommendation of our friendly and knowledgeable waiter, Sam I next moved on to the Simplon, which was made with Four Roses Bourbon, Campari, and sweet vermouth. This was a delightfully sweet, strong concoction, with just a slightly bitter finish. I rounded out my evening of cocktail tasting with one of the bar's signature barrel-aged cocktails, the Ron Zacapa Rum Manhattan. 
 Aged in an oak barrel for 6-8 weeks, this delectable drink was smooth, rich, and sweet, with a slight oakiness - the perfect dessert for the night! Now, although the cocktails are certainly the stars at Orient Express, they also have a terrific food menu available, and I happily sampled a few items from that, as well! 
 To start, I had the hummus, which was a traditional hummus, made from chickpea spread blended with Tahini and lemon, and served with warm pita bread. Fresh, tasty, and satisfying, it was a terrific starter. 
 I followed this with the Ratatouille, which was excellent. Steaming hot, and filled with a wonderful assortment of fresh vegetables including zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant an onions, and served with warm pita bread, this spicy dish was a wonderful counterpart to the fabulous cocktails we were being served. To round out the night, we were served an assortment of chocolates, which were absolutely divine! Overall, a truly wonderful evening! So, the next time you're looking for a great night out on the town, head straight to West 11th St. for one of the best cocktail experiences you'll ever have!

Peachy Picks Orient-Express!
Orient-Express is Highly Recommended by Whom You Know.

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