Earlier this year Beecher’s Handmade Cheese Company opened its doors in the Flatiron District of Manhattan. On Tuesday, Ted capped his last day as an OHNY intern by braving the rains and heading a few blocks south to check out their new digs, and to try their much hyped Grilled Cheese Martini.
Beecher’s New York location is on the corner of Broadway and East 20th Street, a few blocks north of Union Square. The street level storefront offers countless varieties of cheese and cheese accessories, food and drinks to compliment your cheese of choice, and a casual dining area overlooking their impressive cheese making facility.
The hostess, a young Boston transplant, was friendly and knowledgeable, and pointed out some specialty cheeses in the display case. Beecher’s has a number of award winning varieties, and also carries brands from New York, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Washington, among other states.
After sampling their Flagship cheese, as well as the Smoked Flagship (delicious, by the way), it was time to leave the go-go-go world of artisan cheese craftsmanship and head down into the shadowy underbelly of Beecher’s, The Cellar, where the Grilled Cheese Martini was waiting.
The Cellar is an intimately lit lounge and bar area below the main store, and is limited to those visitors lucky enough to be of legal drinking age. Sitting areas and comfortable chairs upholstered with cowhide are flanked by cascading arrangements of candles and chain-mail curtains, invoking a sense of romance and decadence. The effect is so complete you may forget that one mere floor above are stainless steel tanks where cheese curds are made.
After a round of the house wine ($6/glass, happy hour special) and some delicious macaroni and cheese (recommended by the hostess as the do-not-miss plate of the Cellar), it was time to see what all the fuss was about. Our waiter seemed none too surprised to be asked about the specialty martini (absent on the menu, but plenty mentioned online), and was more than willing to explain the process of infusing vodka with different flavors like lemon, bacon, and in this case, grilled cheese.
Finally, the martini ($15) was served, and it was time to taste. While not as close in taste to an actual grilled cheese as one might have expected, the drink was still excellent. Instead of the rich, creamy goodness of its inspiration, this martini boasts notes of basil and vinegar which may sound unappetizing, but worked well. The general consensus was that the flavor profile was largely reminiscent of a basil, tomato, mozzarella salad.
What makes a grilled cheese sandwich such a classic comfort food is the perfect meeting of melted cheese inside warm crunchy bread… characteristics that are probably nearly impossible to translate into a cocktail. Despite not making us feel like red-nosed nine-year-olds called in from the snow, the drink is well worth asking for.
And should you make the trip down to Beecher’s New York, and decide that the Grilled Cheese Martini is not for you, fear not, the bar has plenty of whiskey.
Beecher’s New York – 900 Broadway