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Drinking fancy cocktails at Denny’s. You heard that right.

on 20/09/14 at 11:37 am

Booze News

imagesDenny’s—“America’s diner”—operates 1,700 restaurants, but beyond the oxygenated oasis of Las Vegas, only one of those outposts serves cocktails. A few weeks ago, the chain opened its first Manhattan location at the corner of Nassau and Spruce Streets, a site at once prominent and secreted—across from City Hall and hard by the approach to the Brooklyn Bridge, yet concealed behind the tuchus of Benjamin Franklin. With its drinks menu, the restaurant attaches an intriguing footnote to the story of booze in America.

Many press reports about this Denny’s have fixated on its signature stunt item, the Grand Cru Slam, and why not? The meal—breakfast for two and a bottle of Dom Perignon, yours for $300—captures the mood of New York’s defilement in one concise gesture, indicating both the apotheosis of late-phase nihilistic capitalism and the latest nadir of the city’s suburbanization. HT_dennys_menu_jef_140827_4x3_384Meanwhile, other observers are delightedly shocked to see that Denny’s cocktail menu is largely legit. Here we have another sign—more striking yet than Applebee’s 2014 leap to interpret the 1990s’ interpretation of the 1850s—that fancy-ass drinking has gone thoroughly mainstream: The paradise of Portlandian mixology has torn into the strip-mall parking lot. I needed to see this for myself, so, one recent 5 p.m., I dragged out my favorite drinking buddy, and I do mean dragged, because I force him to hold my hand when crossing the street.

Yes, if we are properly to evaluate the drinks program of a family-style restaurant, we must strongly consider how it styles those drinks of which all members of a family who have been weaned may partake. In his three and three-quarters years, my buddy and I have developed a certain expertise in Shirley Temples. Veritable collectors, we have knocked them back in airport bars and hotel lounges, and at home we’ve hacked together ad hoc artisanal mixers with pomegranate juice and freshly diced ginger. We conduct an ongoing debate about how many cherries a Shirley Temple should be garnished with, disagreeing about the desirability of receiving a theoretically limitless number of them on the side.