It was already a perfect spring day in Manhattan. I had plans to join a food tour mid-morning with Ahoy New York Food Tours. But the night before, I had to cancel due to work a commitment.
That left me with a sunny New York afternoon to fill on my own. This would be a first for me.
In search of lunch and a Perfect Manhattan.
With our ship docked at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal, and my work finished, I decided to walk the short distance to the Theater District in Times Square.
Leaves in 50 shades of green filled winter’s once-barren trees. Along the way I passed a tiny urban oasis at the Clinton Community Garden, a newly renovated apartment building aptly named “Terrific Tenement,” and an assortment of aromatic delicatessens and bustling Irish pubs.
In less than 15 minutes, I reached the heart of Times Square; Broadway and 42nd Street.
A quest (and thirst) for the Perfect Manhattan cocktail was on my afternoon agenda. On previous visits to New York City, I had passed by but never stopped in at a particular landmark restaurant in the Theater District. I knew exactly where I wanted to go; Café Un Deux Trois. I read somewhere that they made a perfect Perfect Manhattan.
Located in what was the lobby of the old Hotel Gerard, this hundred-year old landmark watering hole has greeted the best of Broadway’s luminaries. According to manager Randy St. Louis, Café Un Deux Trois was the place to be seen in the 1970s before going into the iconic disco, Studio 54.
The hotel’s original bar is still in use. Its old wood gleams, polished to a sheen. A mirrored wall behind it reflects the gleaming crystal chandeliers of the adjacent dining room. Reflections of a bygone era.
Occupying more square footage than most neighboring eateries, lunch at the café attracts mostly local business people and a few wandering tourists, leaving quite a few tables unoccupied on non-matinee theatre days. However, the demographics change “dramatically” in the evening. Pre-theatre dinner customers precede post-theatre cast members looking to unwind and have a late repast.
The lunch rush was winding down when I arrived. A table next to the window that overlooked West 44th Street would be my retreat for the next couple of hours. Lunch and a Perfect Manhattan at Café Un Deux Trois.
My Perfect Manhattan was as wonderful as anticipated. Though technically a Brandy Manhattan, Café Un Deux Trois uses brandy instead of bourbon in their version of a Perfect Manhattan. It was a generous cocktail that would last through my entire meal.
Here’s how to make Perfect Manhattan à la Café Un Deux Trois.
Combine in a martini shaker half-filled with ice:
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
2 ounces brandy
Shake gently. Strain and pour into a martini glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and float a thin slice of orange on the top.
Café Un Deux Trois is a wonderful place for lunch to escape from the frenetic pace of Broadway just steps away or for dinner. Whether you are headed to a Broadway play or merely want to absorb the atmosphere of a bygone era, a visit to Café Un Deux Trois will please your palate as well as your wallet. Prices are within a New York reason and the cocktails as generous as the food portions. And the service is excellent.
Located at (guess…) 123 West 44th Street, Café Un Deux Trois will be a highlight of your visit to the Big Apple, no matter what season your ship arrives at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal.
I’m the editor and creator of CruiseMaven.com, a solo traveler cruising the world on waves and wheels, collecting recipes along the way. I hope my articles and photos entertain, advise and inspire you to travel the world without flying. Take a breath…stop for a local meal and a glass of wine along the way.