Jillette Johnson Samples Five Springtime Cocktails at Rogue & Canon, Responsibly

I think my friend at the record company sold me a bill of goods. “Jillette can drink me, you, and all the Virginmarys under the table,” he told me. I had my doubts, but was willing to give Jillette Johnson, the fetching young singer-songwriter, a chance. Yet here we are at Rogue & Canon, sampling no fewer than five cocktails, and she’s drinking … responsibly. Drinking like a mature, level-headed individual who makes her career a priority and has to go home later to work on some songs. A few sips of this, a few sips of that, pleasant banter, thoughtful answers, and a generally healthy attitude toward work and life. As Dorothy Parker would say: what the hell?

It would help the story if she fell off her chair, or at least got sozzled enough to dish some dirt on the celebrities she’s worked with, but no such luck. I made up for it, soaking up every drop of my cocktail quintet and even stopping by another bar on the way home for the world’s most ill-advised nightcap. So, which one of us just sold out Rockwood Music Hall and has a stellar debut album, Water in a Whale, coming out on Wind-up Records next month? That would be Jillette. And who woke up the next morning with his shoes still on, feeling like a cat had used his tongue as a litter box? No comment.

Irresponsibly responsible behavior aside, Jillette’s a pleasure to have a drink with, and Rogue & Canon in downtown Manhattan is a fantastic venue to do it. The latest spot from Johnny Swet and Larry Poston of Jimmy at the James, Cole’s Greenwich Village, and the late Hotel Griffou (RIP), it’s a casual-cool restaurant and bar with creative takes on comfort food like the Rogue Burger: crispy pork belly, peanut butter, onion marmalade, and aged cheddar. Swet, the visionary behind the cocktail menu, embraces an ethos he calls “accessible mixology.” That means the bar’s all about upscale, innovative drinks that aren’t too precious, with a healthy mix of classics and fresh new ideas. We’ll get to those soon enough.

As for Ms. Johnson, it’s impossible not to be taken by her work ethic. “My philosophy,” she explains, “is to tirelessly work, and forgive myself if I fuck up.” She began playing piano at 6, writing songs at 8, and playing out at 12. Her debut EP, Whiskey & Frosting, came out last year, unleashing a slew of heatseekers like “Pauvre Coeur,” a light yet melancholic ode to ephemeral infatuations with a video that features Jillette looking nice in her underwear.

Water in a Whale comes next, for which she’ll be touring the U.S. with a variety of different acts, including Delta Rae and the Saint Johns. She’ll even perform at Bonnaroo in June, a high-profile enough gig to explain her circumspect approach to a booze-soaked Tuesday night interview. After steadily growing her career for more than a decade, she’s got a lot to lose.

She’s got a lot to drink too, and even though she won’t see the bottom of any of her glasses, she gracious and articulate as she samples each one of Swet’s luscious libations and offers a few words of critique. Let’s get guzzling.

Cocktail #1: Spring Awakening

Tito’s Vodka, Cucumber, Parsley, Lemon, Honey, Seltzer

“This is the kind of thing I could get in serious trouble with. It’s delicious—it feels like I’m eating a salad. It’s something to drink on a Sunday afternoon when you’re hung over. It could be sold at the Olympics as Gatorade.”

Cocktail #2: Bourbon Rose

Bulleit Bourbon, Dry Vermouth, Cassis, Lemon

“Ah, this is my kind of drink. I gravitate to hearty, holiday-ish cocktails. The lemon makes it more of a happy hour drink. It reminds me of being in the East Village right after dinner and right before I get in trouble. The finish is like red wine. Whiskey’s my drink. The reason I got started on whiskey is my dad, who drinks Johnnie Black on the rocks. There’s nothing more gratifying than going home to visit my parents and having a tumbler of Scotch with my dad.”

Cocktail #3: Applejacked

Zubrowka Vodka, Laird’s Applejack, Cranberry, Lime, Agave Nectar

“It’s love at first sip with this one, then over the long term it becomes like an apple Jolly Rancher. There’s so much flavor in it, even in small doses. This would be a good Kentucky Derby drink.”

Cocktail #4: Mint Sazerac

Templeton Rye, Herbsaint, Muddled Mint, Peychaud’s Bitters

“This I love. This is my favorite. It has such a smooth finish. It doesn’t burn. I would order this every time. It’s a real drink.”

Cocktail #5: Boulevardier

Knob Creek Bourbon, Campari, Sweet Vermouth

“I love this one too, but I think I’d only have one of them in a night because it’s bitter. I like the depth of it and the citrus element. This drink is me getting dolled up on a cool night for a hot date. [Jillette says she’s single.] It’s interesting to think about who wins in this drink, the sweet side or the bitter side. My favorites tonight, in order: 1. Mint Sazerac 2. Boulevardier 3. Bourbon Rose 4. Spring Awakening 5. Applejacked. All in all, excellent." 

Photo: Rebecca Miller

[For more great spots to drink responsibly, check out the BlackBook New York Guide; Listings for Rogue & Canon, Jimmy, Cole’s; Jillette Johnson Official Site; Wind-up Records; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter]

It’s National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day! NYC’s Five Best PB Dishes

For kids, peanut butter is the ideal snack, and for adults, it’s the stuff of nostalgia. One bite into that PB&J-no crusts-white bread sandwich is like taking a trip back to the playground and swinging on the jungle gym. Which is why today—National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day—is one of our finest (national) holidays. For one day, it’s your chance to delight in the protein, healthy fat, crunchy-filled spread that is peanut butter. So put down that spoon you so commonly dig into your PB jar, get out of your apartment, and head to one of these restaurants for the best sweet and savory peanut butter dishes around.

1. The Sesame Noodles at Sammy’s Noodle Shop & Grill: Heaping platter of peanut butter-sesame-lathered thick, coarse noodles. Very effective hangover cure. Request them heated up.

2. Any dish from Peanut Butter & Co.: Every single item on menu has PB in it. Classics like PB&J club, shockers like spiced PB-Thai chicken sandwich. Flavored PB spreads available for take-home.

3. The Rogue Burger from Rogue & Canon: Peanut butter, crispy pork belly, aged cheddar, & onion marmalade on a potato roll. Speechless.

4. The Maple Bacon Dates from David Burke Kitchen: Medjool dates stuffed with sweet & spicy peanut puree, broiled and crispy. 

5. The Sweet Revenge Cupcake from Sweet Revenge: Signature cupcake with peanut butter cake, chocolate ganache center, and peanut butter fudge frosting. The namesake for a reason.

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IT’S HUMP DAY: Get Sexy At GIRLS Exhibit & PB-Bacon Cocktail Spot

It’s Wednesday and you know what that means: we get our hump on. This weekly column is devoted to finding the hottest events across NYC that’ll arouse and titillate even the most jaded New Yorker. Partake in these shows and soirees – from a GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS exhibit to a classy, wine-filled literary event – and make the rest of your nights this week very sexy.

See photos of sexy girls doing things involving leather & cars:
Artist Katrina del Mar presents her GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS exhibit on the LES, which involves a bunch of photos, videos, and books displaying female archetypes, such as surfer girls, bike gangs, and girls playing in their bedrooms,  and girls with their dogs and tattoos. In signature Katrina fashion, the exhibit offers a fantasy, modern myth, and sets it in a grungy, urban environment, where violence merges into sex. Graphic, hyper-stylized sexually, and unapologetically feminist, a post-discussion over a drink and prime food is necessary. Hit up nearby, just-opened Lobster Joint at happy hour for $4 lobster sliders and a beer. Runs Wed-Sun, 12pm-7pm every day until Feb. 17th. Participant Inc, 253 E. Houston St. All details here. Inside-info on Lobster Joint here.

Eat peanut butter-and-bacon-topped burgers & drink peanut liqueur:
Just-opened Greenwich Village cocktail spot Rogue & Canon takes things to a whole other level, and by that, I do mean “puts peanut butter and bacon in everything.” We’re talking peanut butter and bacon-topped burgers and peanut liqueur, and even bacon bitters. This little bar has got the whole copper-ceiling, brick-walled appeal, and the skills to back it up. From the folks behind the James Hotel’s rooftop bar Jimmy, Rogue is definitely a walk-in-at-2am spot. So bring your date or fling; the night is young. Open now. 128 W. Houston St. Inside-info here.

Get turned on by smart people:
BAM’s series “Eat, Drink & Be Literary” is happening tonight, Jan. 23rd, and offers four things: a classy buffet dinner, wine, live music, and an intimate discussion from the literary scene’s top authors. Authors read their favorite passages of their work, debate with audience members, and give insight into their usually-secret creative process. Even if you’re not a literary fiend, it’s a good excuse to meet people, drink, and feel cultured simultaneously. 6:30pm. $50. Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn. All details here.


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