When hosting friends or family in New York, there is a requisite list of a dozen or so activities to include on the itinerary: a Broadway show, strolling through Central Park, at least one late-night pizza pitstop and, new to a century’s worth of traditions—drinking cocktails at PDT. For such a tiny bar, its reputation is vast, much due in part to its ubiquitous bartender-proprietor Jim Meehan. A native Wisconsinite, Meehan paid for college with bartending gigs until eventually migrating to New York, where he made a name for himself behind the bar at places like Gramercy Tavern, Five Points and Pegu Club. When he joined PDT (an acronym for Please Don’t Tell) in its nascence, the transporting space on St. Mark’s Place was one of the first bars to revive the speakeasy-style space. Nearly seven years later, its popularity remains intact thanks to Meehan’s tireless ambassadorship and the success of The PDT Cocktail Book, a guide that PUNCH predicts will become the next century’s singular snapshot of today’s cocktail renaissance. Above all, Meehan is one of the drink industry’s great sources of knowledge and honest advice, all while maintaining the vision for a wildly popular bar that has defined a generation of drinking establishments.
So what does Meehan do when he’s not drinking, or drink-making? Here, he tackles our Lookbook Questionnaire to share the first time he ever got drunk, the one album he’d listen to on loop for the rest of his life and his go-to drink in a dive.
What do want to be when you grow up?
Best thing you ever drank:
A 20-year-old Jamaican Wedderburn rum that Stephen Remsburg shared with me at his house in New Orleans a few years ago. Leather, tar, ripe stone fruit, rotten tropical fruit with a finish that went on and on and on and on.
Worst thing you ever drank:
It’s with the rest of my bad memories in the little black box… retrieve in the event of a crash.
First time you ever got drunk:
As a 15-year-old freshman in high school, I went to a sophomore party hosted by a girl who had crush on me and drank seven beers. That was the end of that romance. Beer and I remain close.
If you had to listen to one album on loop, for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Currently, Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool.
What’s the weirdest hobby you currently have or have had?
I have no hobbies. I’m a cocktail cyclops.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?
I should find a hobby.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not eating, drinking or drink-making?
Weirdest drink request you’ve ever gotten:
It’s in the little black box.
Your favorite bar, and why:
Radio Bar in Tokyo. Every single detail is considered. The bartenders are amazing and the room is completely serene.
Best meal you’ve ever had:
Dinner at Fäviken: more of a “dining experience” than a meal.
What’s your go-to drink in a cocktail bar?
The cocktail the bartender’s most eager to prepare for me.
In a dive bar?
A bottle of beer in a dive.
Your preferred hangover recovery regime:
Water, Advil, veggies, Irish-Catholic guilt.
The one thing you wish would disappear from drink lists forever:
The need to say “fresh.”
The last text message you sent:
This information is classified.