Raines Law Room Head Bartender Meaghan Dorman Loves Drinking Her Dessert
In this interview, Raines Law Room (48 West 17th Street) head bartender Meaghan Dorman chats about her fondness for rich flavor profiles, Champagne cocktails, and Campari.
Raines Law Room head bartender Meaghan Dorman
How do you handle dealer's choice requests?
There are a lot of different questions we ask people to get an idea of what will make them happy. Sometimes [dealer's choice] goes over well, but sometimes it can go the wrong way because bartenders love Campari and things like that. So we'll ask things like, "Strong? Stirred? Citrus? Spicy?" Sometimes the easiest thing to ask is, "Is there anything you're allergic to or really don't like?" A lot of the time people will want to avoid strong flavors, such as ginger or absinthe. There was a time when the Jungle Bird (Black Strap Rum, Campari, pineapple juice, and lime) came back around in New York -- that was a really fun drink to introduce people to because it's so unique. It has really funky maple syrup and coffee flavors.
What is your go-to drink?
It always changes -- even based on the time of day. I'm a huge Champagne cocktail drinker. I always like to start a little lighter, too. I'm also a big fan of Campari. I really love wintery, sweeter drinks. If I can drink my dessert, I'm all about that. I just had a really delicious drink at Nitecap, which was doing friends and family this week. It had aged rum, Pedro Ximénez sherry, and bitters. It was a boozy drink but definitely with a rich and sweet side, which is totally up my alley.
What should people know about Champagne cocktails (which carve out a nice section on your menu)?
People don't always think of Champagne cocktails, but when you suggest something with bubbles, they're like, "Oh, yeah!" There isn't a plethora of old Champagne cocktails, so it's fun to play around with that. It's also really important to have lighter options on menus for people who might not want an old fashioned during a meeting or can't have four boozy, bitter bartender cocktails. I think it's important to have a menu that's approachable to everyone who comes in.
What goes through your mind when creating a new cocktail?
We're strongly rooted in classic drinks, but we have expanded our menu a lot in the past couple of years because people are looking for other things we can offer them. A big request right now are spicy and savory cocktails, which are definitely not a big thing in terms of classic drinks from the late 1800s -- so that's something we're taking a fresh approach to, and we're seeing where we can add things like spice and peppers.
Also, when we get a cool product in -- like a fun rum or liqueur -- we'll play around with it, and usually something good will come from it.