Paul Clarke has a column in the San Francisco Chronicle about the rise of bars changing up the traditional combination of a light beer and a shot of cheap bourbon to reflect the ever-growing possibilities found in craft beers and spirits. While I haven’t been at any of the bars Paul mentions to try their advanced combinations, I’m really intrigued by the idea.
Probably my favorite dive bar of all time is Cherry Tavern in the East Village of New York City. One of the things I love about Cherry Tavern is that they have the best deal I know of in the City. On any night you can get a can of Tecate and a shot of rail tequila for $5. Also (I think the days are right) from Sunday through Tuesday you can get the Old Glory special, which is a can of PBR and a shot of rail whiskey for $4. For those who don’t frequent New York bars, a cheaper beer like a PBR or Tecate will normally never be sold for less than $5-6 and rail shots usually cost about the same. Unfortunately, aside from being a great deal, the Cherry Tavern deals don’t have a lot going for them. The beers and spirits are as cheap as they get and all you have a good chance of doing is tying one on on the cheap.
I have to say, if a DC bar started doing special beer and shot pairings with really high quality beers and spirits, I would be very likely to become a regular. Having a bartender explain why they pulled the pairing together, what they think works about the two spiritous drinks, and how they complement each other would be an educational opportunity. It’d also be a way for bars to educate customers and take them beyond their comfortable orders of a PBR and a Jameson or a High Life and a Beam.