Lantern's Keep's Meaghan Dorman Talks Appletinis, Negroni Cravings and Bringing Back the '80s (in Cocktail Form)
The last time we checked in with Meaghan Dorman, she'd just launched her first cocktail list at Raines Law Room (48 West 17th Street). Since then, she has launched a couple more at such bars as Jones Wood Foundry (401 East 76th Street) and Lantern's Keep in the Iroquois Hotel (49 West 44th Street). She took time out of her busy schedule to talk shop.
You've been busy these days. Where are you spending most of your time?
Currently I'm splitting my time between bartending Raines Law Room and managing the bar at Lantern's Keep. I won't be at Lantern's Keep permanently, but I am there a lot to make sure the foundation I built sets well, so to speak.
Do you feel like you have a style you're importing to each place, or do you always bring something different to the table for each bar?
While the actual cocktails are quite varied, I always make sure to keep a list diverse. There's got to be something for everyone. I had a lot of fun experimenting with old hotel bar drinks for the Lantern's list, while at Raines the inspiration is truly from all over, both modern and classic. In terms of my own style, I always keep an eye on the overall experience of a guest, so I would hope to impart that on my staff. Beyond the cocktails, everything is important, from finding ways to connect with your guest to having a really clean bar. Going to work at Raines Law Room is like throwing a house party every night, and nobody wants to be the gal that threw a lame party.
What's you favorite spirit or ingredient of the moment?
I'm a huge Campari fan. I was definitely one of those people that thought it was way too harsh a few years ago and one day woke up with a Negroni craving. Now I love to find ways to work with it.
So, it's not cupcake vodka, then? I only know of cupcake vodka via mocking Facebook posts. A boozy treat for me comes in a pineapple at Painkiller. We've seen cocktails from pre-Prohibition and post- -- is there an era in cocktail history you'd like to explore? Say, the Sex on the Beach '70s or Kamikaze '80s?
Don't tell anyone, but my next cocktail program is '80s done right. Stone-washed denim meets suspenders.
You've opened bars for other people, but what would your own bar look like?
I haven't had my personal bar epiphany yet, but I think it's coming. For sure, it will have a nice champagne selection and a sweet espresso machine for my staff. And maybe some windows.
Any plans to open it?
Not in the immediate future, but one day I'll be sitting on bar stool that I own with a glass of bubbles.
What's your guilty pleasure, drink-wise? Any Miller High Life hiding in your fridge?
My guilty pleasure of late is sampling the Midtown "martini" lists on my journeys around the Iroquois 'hood. Yes, Appletinis are alive and well, and come in both red and green!
What do you have coming up next?
I'm excited for Tales [of the Cocktail in New Orleans] this year, where I'm presenting a history of women bartenders seminar and hosting a spirited lunch with my LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails) ladies. Other than that, I'm looking forward to making lots of drinks and fitting in a vacation somewhere.
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