Cooking Channel Thoughts: Drink Up With Darryl Robinson

1) The promos from this show were taped at The Pony Bar in Manhattan. The Pony Bar is one of my absolute favorite bars anywhere in the city. I love the vibe, I love the beer board, I love that they Tweet beers when they go up. Basically, if I had to pick one bar in Manhattan to live next to, it would be this one. The promos alone had me hooked on the show — they had me at Pony Bar.

2) I enjoyed the choice to tackle tequila in an early episode. Tequila gets a really bad rep as a trash college shot. Of course, it actually IS a trash college shot. But then, there’s trash college versions of every alcohol. I don’t know if this episode will convince anyone else to try a nice, barrel-aged sippin’ tequila, but the thought was nice.

3) Darryl Robinson is very wooden. I don’t know the audition process but Robinson’s not quite seasoned enough to sound natural. He really sounds like he’s reading off cards which, well, he IS but he doesn’t quite have the skill yet to sound like he’s not. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he’ll get better.

4) It occurred to me about half-way through the second episode that I have to dial down things in these columns like “nobody has these ingredients” and such because, well, the network is designed for people who DO have these ingredients. I will say that Robinson was having a bit of a high-level conversation with the bartenders — talking about things like agave syrup and the like — but the drinks looked very good. I can’t complain on one hand that Food Network has dumbed everything down and then also complain that Robinson didn’t explain “pineapple simple syrup”.

5) I don’t know how much I’m supposed to learn about the featured drink, but I’m pretty sure I learned more about tequila from the Good Eats margarita episode. Maybe it’s just me.

6) If we need anything to solidly outline the difference in target audience in these two networks, it is his choice of tequila bars to visit in New York City. The first, Mayahuel, is an Mexican restaurant I’ve been to featuring $15 tequila cocktails, $50 tequila drink pitchers, a large selection of sippin’ tequila, and pretty good upscale Mexican food. The second is La Biblioteca de Tequila, where one can purchase tequila bottle service (the ones offered on their website are $160 or $300) and store them in the library for up to six months. After purchasing a bottle, they store it in their tequila locker and you may go in and “check it out” whenever you’d like. It’s somewhat ingenious. These two places are for tequila snobs only. Most people would never come here. It’s not for them. It’s for we snooty folks who want to try a $18 glass of sippin’ tequila just because. Also, in case you weren’t sure: “Beer gets a bad rep because it’s sorta an everyman’s beverage.” But, we promise, it can also be fancy and good! In fairness, this battle has largely been won. We’re slowly approaching the point where people will be longing for the days before craft beer was cool.

7) I was much more in to the Beer episode because, well, if you’ve seen the other blog you know why. It was also filmed at The Pony Bar. Good choice.

8) The mixologist bit seemed a little out of place in the beer episode. The Pony Bar’s bartender is going through a quick beer education, and suddenly Darryl steps in “well, I’m gonna do my thing and make this beer cocktail!” It was a little bit of an awkward transition. Of course, I don’t like beer taking the back seat to liquor in any situation, so I might not be the best person in this case.

9) Non Cooking Channel related aside: it’s taken the American Brewing industry the American palette 80 years to begin to recover from the damage the Women’s Christian Temperance Union wrought upon beer. We became conditioned to watered down beer and it took Jim Koch being a crazyman to prove it as a business model. I have no real point here… just remember this any time you agree with MADD’s agenda.

10) If I’m being really picky, if you’re going to an episode about beer in New York City, it’s hard to defend NOT going to Sixpoint, Chelsea, or Brooklyn to lean the brewing process. I understand the decision to go to the Beer Table for the beer cooking suggestions. I even understand the purpose of going to the home brewer place — but, for me, the larger scale brewers are slightly more interesting. I also understand why these first few episodes were taped in New York City (since they probably didn’t get a ton of money for launch) but they’ll have to get out of Manhattan and Brooklyn soon. We’re not quite that important that an entire drinking show can be based here. But, I love the show and I hope they don’t run out of material any time soon.