Hm. The Hurricane Club. Well, it’s pretty. I had a good sandwich there. They’re serving drinks in some nice mugs.
The Rum and Shine station
But man, is it trying hard. To do what, I don’t know. This place feels so schizophrenic. As soon as you walk in the door, you’re pounded over the head with an ISN’T THIS ELEGANT? mallet. Everything is gold, everything looks expensive; the place just looks like old money (or like it wants old money). There are champagne stands throughout the restaurant, clearly asking to be put to use. It all felt pretentious. Sending the pretension right over the top: they offer shoeshines when you buy straight rum, which is served from an old-timey drinking fountain downstairs. Isn’t that precious?
Merv in his gilded cage
And then you’re seated next to a Merv tiki decanter, which if you aren’t familiar with it, is about as unrefined as a tiki mug has ever gotten. Merv’s creator, Sam Gambino, is an excellent lowbrow tiki artist, and the whole point of this guy is that he’s a cheesy, kitschy ball of retro. Huh? What the hell is Merv doing here?
The drinks at Hurricane Club are fine—they tasted good. But they weren’t particularly tiki, aside from being served in tiki mugs. The menu was trying to talk a tiki game, but the drinks on offer just weren’t tiki flavors or combinations or ingredients. All the fun had been squeezed out: there were no fantastic names to transport you, the drinks only have numbers. It seemed as if a perhaps-talented bar manager was hired at the last minute, given a five-minute introduction to tiki (but not given any of Jeff Berry’s books), and then wasn’t invited to any meetings with anyone else involved in the project.
Not helping: the stiff, white-vested bartender who served us was gruff. It wasn’t just us, he was gruff and unpleasant to everyone I saw: other customers, his coworkers, a distributor who came calling. I suspect he would very much like to throw Merv out.
Eh, oh well. It wasn’t a terrible time or anything, it just felt like it wanted so very much to be… I don’t know. And it just wasn’t. I don’t think I’d bother going back again, there are too many wonderful places to get a great tiki drink with knowledgeable, affable service.
- The Hurricane Club in New York [Critiki]