I first encountered the Sawyer after a late-night gustatory marathon at Momofuku Ko, the twelve-stool East Village restaurant famous for its elaborate and inventive omakase-style tasting menu and a sometimes confounding online reservation system. Even though I had been served far too many courses to remember—the scribbles in my Moleskine notebook that night went from their normal, barely legible state to cave paintings—I left not with a sense of overstuffed food coma, but rather an enlightened eater’s high. Despite the subzero temperatures that bitter January night, I wasn’t ready to call it quits just yet. A nightcap seemed in order, so I walked over to Ko’s sister restaurant, Ssäm Bar.
Don Lee, who spent time at PDT and was then the bar manager for the Momofuku empire, was behind the stick at Ssäm Bar that night, and when I told him I was looking for a post-Ko digestif, he went to work and presented me with the Sawyer, an icy, bitters-soaked twist on a gimlet doctored with nearly thirty dashes of bitters. Don explained that the drink was inspired by wd-50 chef Wylie Dufresne (who loves gin) and was named after Wylie’s daughter. The Sawyer is no longer on the menu at Ssäm Bar, but ask nicely and most of the bartenders will know what you’re after.
Reprinted with permission from Bitters by Brad Thomas Parsons, copyright © 2011. Photos by Ed Anderson © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.