The Watering Hole: Teatro ZinZanni, 222 Mercer St., 802-0015, QUEEN ANNE
The Atmosphere: Think Moulin Rouge meets Las Vegas. Imported from Belgium, this gorgeous antique theater is full of gold and glitter, red velvet, and stained glass, along with novelty gifts like feather boas and tiaras. For those unfamiliar with TZZ, it is not a traditional bar, but a three-and-a-half-hour cabaret, cirque, and comedy show with a five-course feast designed by Tom Douglas. (Fancy schmancy, eh?) However, the lobby does feature a bar where many guests enjoy preshow cocktails.
The Barkeep: Jamie Rizzo, who upon my first Stockard Channing reference, amicably responds "I like to think Rizzo like the rat from The Muppets, but the whore from Grease is fine." His pick of poison: whiskey. "It takes a real drinker to enjoy whiskey," he says. "The flavor is versatile and works well in savory cocktails, but a shot of whiskey with a beer works great, too." For most TZZ guests however, he sticks with serving the former.
The Drink: Named after a character in TZZ's current show "Hail Caesar!," the Charmion's Delight consists of Grand Marnier, Maker's Mark, and vanilla liqueur, shaken and poured in a Pernod-rinsed glass. Rizzo tweaks the recipe slightly by adding two dashes of orange bitters to further bring out the flavors.
The Muppets' Rizzo the Rat.
The Verdict: Whiskey drinkers are certain to adore the Charmion's Delight, but even those who typically steer clear of it, like myself, can appreciate its uniqueness and for being slightly sweeter than the average whiskey-centric concoction. As for Jamie Rizzo, who is way cuter than Rizzo the Rat, he proves to be a charming and skillful bartender who doesn't break a sweat when the line gets long and the drink orders complicated. "My job is easy!" he demurs. "Nobody comes here depressed or pissed off. Everybody is here to celebrate."