21 Essex Street
New York, NY 10001
(212) 995-5464

If you crossed a cocktail lounge with a seedy dive bar, you'd get White Star. There's no dress code, no pretense, and the bar's sticky. Mr. Dogz being a dive bar guy, it seemed like the perfect place to introduce him to my fascination with mixed drinks. Plus it was his birthday. What can I say. I'm a multitasker.

White Star's small. Possibly the smallest of any of the cocktail places I've been to so far. There are two and a half tables in the back, about ten seats at the bar and some seats at the window. We sat at the bar, ordered concoctions and talked about girls. Like most dive bars, there's music, but because it's not cranked to 11, you can actually have a conversation at a normal volume.

Three rounds is enough to get anyone good 'n' happy and good they all were. Happy we became. White Star's menu is a sweet and citrusy one. Syrups are verboten, but fresh squeezed lemons and limes and grapefruit abound. For round one (pictured below), I tried the Dark and Stormy, a mix of molasses rum, lime juice, seltzer and ginger. If you like bitter drinks, this is probably the closest you're going to get here, and that's purely because of the ginger, which was potent and gives your tongue a little burn after each sip. Mr. Dogz, a history buff and big fan of FDR, naturally ordered the Lendlease: bourbon, St. Germain and lime juice. This is basically a lime-based whiskey sour and unfortunately the St. Germain got lost behind the bourbon and lime.

For round two (above) Dogz went with the Holland Razor Blade, genever, lemon juice, sugar, and Cayenne pepper. Sweet and smooth, like a gin-heavy lemonade, but with a spicy bite that you don't even notice until a second and a half after swallowing. My choice was the Bermuda Sour, dark rum, egg white, bitters, sugar and lemon juice. Delicious. The egg white gave it a thicker texture and frothy foam; the bitters cut the sour from the lemon. There was time for one more round before dinner, so I snapped up a Bourbon Shake, bourbon, lime juice, and sugar. It tasted good, as everything we ordered did, but it was virtually indistinguishable from the Lendlease that Mr. Dogz ordered earlier. It was a whiskey sour with lime. The Airmail was Dogz's last, and he says, the best of the evening. Made from white rum, honey, lime juice and prosecco, it's a light drink that has just enough honey to lend its flavor a sweet musky aftertaste.

Drinks at White Star are $10-12 each.

Update - 5/7/10
Bro and I were supposed to go to the Rents for dinner, but, since we forgot our keys and no one was home, we had time to kill. I suggested we shoot to the Lower East Side for cocktails at White Star. My assumption was that it was early and we could easily get a seat.

How right I was. Not only was it empty, it hadn't even opened. We walked in to find the place completely deserted. Luckily, the bartender, who was setting up for the coming throngs told us to stick around. We ordered two relatively simple drinks so's not to keep him from the part of the job that has nothing to do with having random bloggers walk in the door.

Bro went with the Amaretto Sour: lemon juice and Amaretto Di Lazzaroni. This is the amaretto sour you nurse. Very sweet, very sour, and with a hearty foam on top. Brush your teeth when you're done. My drink was the Sure Thing, a combo of gin, Punt e Mes (dark vermouth), lemon juice, sugar and club soda. A sure thing it was. Tall and cool and sweet and bubbly, it was the perfect way to ride the long late afternoon into the coming evening.

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