Saturday night I met my friend Joo at Hurapan Kitchen, a Thai restaurant in the West Village. The menu had a variety of interesting more Thai-fusion type dishes but ultimately I decided to test their masaman curry - one of my Thai favorites. Joo also stuck with a classic - pad thai - and we split a fried calamari appetizer. It was fun to venture into a different neighborhood and try a new restaurant. It was also fun to have a low key dinner to catch up with a good friend I don't see as often as I would like. Instead of dessert we opted for tea - mine was called Ambrosia, a rooibos tea (my favorite tea, it is an African red tea that is used for herbal chai) infused with apples, chocolate and something else I forget. It was really good without being too much - no need to add any sweetener.
After dinner, we wandered through the Village as Joo allowed law school memories to catch up with her as we made our way to destination number two: Pegu Club. We were meeting a friend of Joo's to celebrate his birthday. As we expected, arriving at 9:30 for a 9 pm party, we were the first to arrive after the birthday boy and the organizer. We sat at the bar and caught up. When my Diet Coke was low Joo's friend insisted I try something more exciting since this place is known for its cocktails. He knows I don't drink and asked the bartender to mix me up a special virgin concoction. My expectations weren't too high so they were quickly surpassed by the refreshing beverage with which I was presented. It was too loud for me to completely understand the name of my "mocktail" - a virgin something-something mule. I cautiously took a sip through the slim black straw after admiring the decorative mint floating atop the stacked cubes of ice. It was fantastic! Almost too fantastic, so I inquired about the other ingredients. I didn't get a complete answer but I gathered it was mostly ginger beer - a beverage I first tasted in Australia - mint, lime juice and possibly something else. I always appreciate it when friends - especially indirect friends like the birthday boy who ordered the drink - go out of their way to make sure I have a satisfying drink, even if it isn't filled with alcohol. It was also a nice change when later in the evening the birthday boy had another teetotaling (very attractive, but not Mormon, not a New Yorker and possibly with a girl) friend show up. I watched as he cautiously and skeptically inspected his mocktail , not quite believing it was a virgin drink intended for him. It was another hit. Without the benefit of the bartender's explanation, I couldn't even begin to guess what was in it. But after passing it around for a sip - we all agreed it was intriguing with more spice than my minty refreshment.
So, if you find yourself in New York, looking to try out the New York loungey night life, but you're not ready for the hard stuff, check out Pegu Club and ask the bartender to mix you up a mocktail - you won't be disappointed.