A Little Cocktail Advice Before Dinner

Yesterday, I called Michael Dietsch, who writes all about “cocktails, spirits, liqueurs, barware, bars and bitters” on his blog, Dash of Bitters, and now also bartends at the brand new and very pretty Cook & Brown Public House, which opened in Providence last week. I was picking his brain about cocktail trends for a sidebar in our June feature on nightlife when we got on the subject of pre-dinner drinks: ideally, something “light and fizzy to awaken the palate.” Champagne is a best bet, but he also suggested a Southside, made with gin, lemon juice, mint, sugar and seltzer. “It’s fun and light,” he said. “The bubbles get your palate moving.” He wouldn’t say what not to order ("The cocktail scene is no longer the cult of the mixologist who acts like you’re an idiot if you like vodka cocktails"), but he did muse politely, “I think it’s odd when people order something rich and heavy, like an Irish coffee or a Mudslide, before dinner. It’s hard for me to understand how you’re going to enjoy a subtle dish of sole after that.”

FYI, I thought of this today at lunch when a guy next to me in line ordered a meatball grinder with mayonnaise. “It’s hard for me to understand how you’re going to enjoy that,” I wanted to say. But I didn’t. I behaved.

Anyway, if you’re out to dinner tonight (Restaurant Week in Newport and Bristol!), start with a little champagne.