Though he mines his curmudgeonly side for comedy gold, when he’s not performing, Patton Oswalt goes out of his way to be a nice guy. It’s nearly 9:00 p.m. and he’s just finished an arduous day of shooting a dark bromance called Scoutmasters, but the “former wedding deejay from Northern Virginia,” according to his Twitter account, is all smiles and great-to-meet-yous as he enters the elegant and futuristic Stone Rose lounge in New York, the kind of bar Jane Jetson would have frequented before settling down in Orbit City.
He’s got a galaxy’s worth of projects in the works, from a new comedy album based on his recent Showtime special, Finest Hour, to the upcoming Young Adult (out December 9), in which Oswalt plays a former high school classmate of teen lit writer Mavis Gary (played by Academy Award winner Charlize Theron) in a Diablo Cody–scripted, Jason Reitman–directed story about whether it’s possible to go home again. Still, Oswalt seems sincerely happy to have this opportunity to taste gin-based cocktails, despite his admission that gin really isn’t his thing. Fortunately, his juniper-averse palate is in the capable hands of mixologist Oana Kovacs, a Romanian beauty whose deft touch behind the bar can dress up the embattled spirit for just about any taste. Over the course of the evening, Oswalt has us all laughing at his reactions, which veer from the literal to the literary to the downright weird. For one night, at least, Gin Lane had nothing on 10 Columbus Circle.
Cocktail #1: Gin Blossom Muddle 5 slices of cucumber, 1 oz. elder ower syrup, and 1 oz. cranberry juice in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and 1 ½ oz. Hendrick’s Gin. Shake and strain into an ice-filled highball glass. Top off with club soda and garnish with a cucumber slice. “I like how it smells like the water they give you in health spas, with cucumber and lemon. Fill a pitcher with this in a spa and people would get wasted. I’d definitely give this one the thumbs up, because I cannot taste the gin at all. This is probably the last mixed drink Truman Capote had before he stopped pretending to be genteel and started drinking gin right out of the bottle. That’s all I’m going to have of that one. I am being a responsible actor. I’d like that in the article, please. I can’t show up on set with my liver hanging out of my mouth.”
Cocktail #2: Grapefruit Basil Martini Combine in an ice-filled cocktail shaker: 2 oz. Bombay Sapphire Gin, 1 oz. grapefruit juice, ½ oz. simple syrup, 3 large basil leaves (torn). Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a basil leaf. “This just tastes like grapefruit juice and basil. The fruity taste makes it kind of stingy, which is what hides the gin, but the basil makes it seem like you’re drinking a cold aperitif. It’s almost entering boozy gazpacho territory, which is a good thing. It’s a kiddie pool full of sunshine, but at the bottom there’s a fistfight waiting. So far, boom boom. Nicely done, Stone Rose.”
Cocktail #3: Eastsider Muddle 5 mint leaves, 3 wedges of lime, and ½ oz. simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and 1 ¾ oz. Plymouth Gin. Shake and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wheel. “Dammit, it’s a mojito with the guhhhh taken out. Me likey. My favorite so far. The Eastsider’s great because it comes with its own trust fund and ironic T-shirt.”
Cocktail #4: Grapefruit Tonic Combine in an ice- lled highball glass: 2 oz. Tanqueray Gin, splash of grapefruit juice. Fill with tonic and float with 3 shakes of grapefruit bitters. Garnish with a grapefruit slice. “This is like that bar scene at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark, only instead of doing shots, we’re drinking these amazingly constructed cocktails. We’re going to drink a giant Mongolian under the table. Okay, this is the one where I can taste the gin. The grapefruit bitters and the gin are fighting to make me put it down. They’re saying, ‘You don’t want this, kid. Go back to the Eastsider.’ This is what the husband instructs the bartender to make for his trophy wife to piss her off when they’re fighting at the yachting regatta.”
Cocktail #5: Classic Negroni Combine in an ice- lled cocktail shaker: 1 ½ oz. Bombay Sapphire Gin, ¾oz. Aperol, ¼ oz. Lillet. Shake and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with an orange twist. “Too much goddamn gin. The bitters just enhance the gin for me, man. It’s like I can taste the chemical process and it bums me out. It tastes like it’s pissed off that I’m drinking it. ‘Let someone cooler drink this, not you.’”
Cocktail #6: Blackberry Bomb Muddle 3-4 blackberries and ¾ oz. simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and 1 ½ oz. Hendrick’s Gin. Shake and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Top off with a splash of club soda. “I feel like I’m drinking a Russian short story. It’s very moody. It’s like, ‘I’ll get you drunk or not, but we’ll all be dead soon, so who gives a shit.’ The protagonist in an H.P. Lovecraft story would drink this. Does that make sense? No, it doesn’t.”