The World's Coolest Pop-Up Bar Is Serving Tequila and Hot Dogs
How do you get some of the world’s very best chefs together in one place?
It turns out that you mix some drinks and let them make hot dogs.
The iconic cocktail bar Please Don’t Tell—the intimate Manhattan watering hole better known by its acronym PDT and once voted Best Bar in the World (PDF)—is in the midst of a month-long residency at the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona. To celebrate, they threw a little party on Tuesday night and invited some impressive guests. Among the crowd were some of the top chefs on the planet, with places that dominate the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list and rack up Michelin stars: Albert Adrià (Tickets); Carme Ruscalleda (Restaurant Saint Pau); Angel León (Restaurant Aponiente); and Joan Roca (El Cellar de Can Roca).
“It’s the first time in a long time we’ve all been together in the same room,” said Adrià, who is perhaps even better known as the pastry chef at the now-shuttered restaurant, elBulli, in Roses, Spain.
Adrià’s favorite drink of the night—in fact, the most popular among all the chefs—was the Sgt. Pepper. It’s PDT’s nod to a gin and tonic, which isn’t on its menu: a mix of tequila, tonic syrup, lime, Padrón peppers, and club soda.
“The Spanish love gin and tonics,” said PDT’s general manager Jeff Bell, who is working the bar in Barcelona, along with co-founder Jim Meehan. In fact, just about every bar in Barcelona has a full page of G&T’s. (Not surprisingly, the perfect gin for the ultimate martini also comes from Spain.)
“We felt that it would be redundant to bring a gin and tonic to Spain, but that it would be cool to use tonic in an unconventional way,” said Bell. So he created a version with blanco tequila (a favorite in the chef world), plus muddled chiles, concentrated tonic, and a splash of soda for effervescence. “If a gin & tonic is the Beatles, then Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is Jeff’s tequila-based take on the colonial classic perfected by the Spanish,” reads PDT’s cheeky menu description.
The menu also includes such drinks as Rosé Colored Glass (gin, crème de cacao, and cava) and the Nichol Buck (gin, sherry, honey, ginger beer, and lemon). In fact, it’s a gin-heavy menu: “Spain is the biggest gin market in the world; they consume more than any other country,” noted Bell. “When we did our PDT popup in Hong Kong, we had a whisky focus, as Scotch is huge in Hong Kong and American Whiskeys are exploding. The goal is to cater to the local palates but to present it in our style.”
Still, it wasn’t just cocktails that drew Barcelona’s superstar chefs to PDT BCN.
In New York, the bar is known for collaborating with chefs to craft gourmet hot dogs to accompany their drinks. So, in Spain, Joan Roca created the Completo Chileno, a beef hot dog topped with truffled avocado, “sauerkraut,” and spiced tomato. Ruscalleda’s contribution is a vegetable sausage with cheese herb sauce, salad, and her initials emblazoned in the bun. Adriá chose to do the New Orleans hot dog. It’s a German-style sausage with Gruyère cheese, smoked bacon, and a secret “New Orleans” sauce. It just happens to be the one of the best-selling hot dogs at PDT BNC.
All these dogs—six in total, plus caviar tater tots and truffle waffle fries—can be had at the PDT BCN pop-up through Sept. 30. Set in the hotel’s Bankers Bar, it is accessed by guests via a phone booth, a nod to the entrance of the New York original that's secreted in an East Village hot dog shop. The cocktail list comprises 12 drinks: nine created especially for the pop-up and three PDT classics.