It may come as a surprise to those who know me, but my Sunday routine as a kid largely surrounded the church. I would wake up at an ungodly hour of 8a (on a weekend!), gobble down a quick breakfast, followed by hours of bible school, then a trip to the church buffet (where I learned the wonders of Hawaiian punch and baked egg), and lastly, 4 more hours of choir.
That ended as I entered my teenage rebellion years. I took a strong stand by sleeping in on Sundays, therefore effectively ending my spotless record of church attendance.
Although I've now been church-free for quite a few years, many bible stories stayed with me, especially the adventures of Moses. Being a natural-born foodie, that story has been my favorite because of all the miracles surrounding food. Falling sweet manna from the sky, the quest to find "the land flowing with milk and honey" (aka Israel)—nothing else tops it for me.
So, during my recent trip to New York, I too, went on a pilgrimage to the land of milk and honey. In this case, it's the top-secret bar with the same name. Highly recommended by my friend and pastry chef extraordinaire, M&H is a intimate, speakeasy that focuses on cocktails and nothing else.
Getting in is a mission in itself as the bar is a members-only establishment—the other alternative is to be referred by a member. Fortunately in my case, I fall under the latter category and the chef took care of it all.
At the time of my reservation, my friends and I arrived on time in front of a nondescript door on a quiet (sketchy) street. The only marker that let me know I was at the right place was the discreet M&H sticker—and a couple was there quietly bargaining with the hostess. They had no reservations but still wanted to go in, to which the hostess politely referred them "to a bar down the street with a star on the door." Ouch.
As the rejected couple slumped away, the hostess looked over expectantly and I barely managed to squeak out my name. Her demeanor changed immediately and warmly directed my party and I to a leather booth where a server promptly asked us what were our spirit of choice and favorite taste profile. That's right, there are no menus—every libation is customized to each patron. *Also, a note for vodka lovers: M&H unfortunately do not serve vodka, sorry.
I ordered St. Germain and super fruity and as for my friends: aged rum and smokey; gin and tart; and gin and sweet. As we waited for our drinks, we surveyed the establishment. The space is narrow and long, with several leather booths and small candle lit bar where a lone bartender furiously shook cocktails through the night. In the bathrooms, there is a framed rules of conduct to keep things classy. Overall, the atmosphere was relaxed and refreshingly not crowded—a welcomed change to the hustle and bustle of New York.
Our server came back later with our cocktails and we were in heaven. My drink tasted like a fresh strawberry field with a slight flowery aftertaste and my friends' drinks all tasted exactly like their requests.
What's particularly notable is the attention to the ice cubes used in all our prospective concoctions. In my case, I wanted something light, so mine came in a towering cup of little cubes which, as they melted, maintained the perfect alcohol level and taste. As for my friend, his drink incorporates a deep rum, so the bartender used one big ice cube that barely melted but kept his drink nice and cold.
We stayed for one more impeccable round of refreshments before calling it a night. And what a night it was.