Carmel’s own octogenarian superstar, Doris Day, pours out more style, as does Terry’s Lounge.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
The Oscar and Grammy honoree gave Hollywood glitter with 39 films and 26 albums, but still gave us rough-cut gems like “Any girl can look glamorous… just stand there and look stupid.” She rose to share a golden era with Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra despite being smashed up by a steel-train-on-car collision as a youngster. She loves and shepherds animals so much she gives Bob Barker a run for his Milkbone.
Yes, it’s hard not to like the style of Carmel’s own Doris Day. Now two recent developments make it that much harder.
One, she surged back into the top 10 on British pop charts with her first record in two decades – at age 87. As of tomorrow, her new CD My Heart is out in the U.S., and all proceeds go to the Doris Day Animal Foundation. Two, the already righteous Terry’s Lounge in her Cypress Inn in Carmel (624-3871) has just gotten saucier.
Terry’s was already brimming with the personality that comes with two of Day’s passions, music and dogs. I took some first-timers a month back and they were almost as tickled with the voice and piano from Debbie Davis and Gennady (live local music happens Thursday through Sunday) as they were with the charismatic menagerie of standard poodles and springer spaniels. The rare Cypress burger ($15 with salad and garlic fries), Dungeness crab cakes with cranberry-Grand Marnier chutney ($12) and local sand dabs ($18) didn’t remotely suck either. Last week another mellow, impromptu autumn afternoon doggie party assembled on the cute patio with the fireplace and ivy – Schnauzer in a T-shirt! A fluffy French poodle named Peppy (Pepe?)! – while I grazed on a fresh crab-mango tower ($11) and marveled at the fact that two tables within earshot exclaimed what good values they received. And that a staffer found an extension cord so I could plug in my laptop outside.
The revamped cocktail menu is a bound mini-Bible loaded with lore and wisdom like Humphrey Bogart’s “The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind.” Bartender/Carmel veteran Drago, who’s been around long enough to tell you a tale or two – and to earn one-name-only status – set out to design a Hollywood-inspired list stacked with classic cocktails that reflect an era when gin dominated, vodka had yet to cross the Atlantic and, as Drago says, “drinks were drinks.”
He succeeded. Over the course of several visits I’ve sipped across pages separated by defining spirits (whiskey, brandy, gin, rum) and buttressed with back stories (“Whiskey was James Cagney’s favorite drink”). I like their take on my go-to cocktail, a stylish Perfect Manhattan ($12) with Maker’s Mark 46 that blends in both sweet and dry vermouths beautifully. The Zombie ($12) entrances with Bacardi light and gold rum, Meyer’s dark rum, apricot brandy, passionfruit nectar, pineapple juice and a Bacardi 151 float. A luminous Hemingway Daiquiri ($9) with Bacardi rum, maraschino liqueur, lime juice and pink grapefruit plus simple syrup gets my pen dancing. And a lively Clover Club raises eyebrows with its pink complexion and fresh combo of Beefeater gin, fresh lemon juice, Chambord, egg white and simple syrup. They’re tasty, and… “they’re strong,” Drago says. “That’s how they used to make them.”
Day still calls Drago for grub to go or wine for her and her staff. She likes the chicken salad with capers and water chestnuts ($7), the swordfish special ($20), the braised short ribs ($19) and the chicken piccata ($16). I’ll continue to come calling when I need a place with puppy personality and premium drinks by the sea. Then, after a Dark ‘n’ Stormy ($10), as Day sings, “Que será, será.”
• Edible took you behind the hyper-viral video “It’s Getting Real in the Whole Foods Parking Lot” earlier this year. Now its Fog and Smog team has posted “Yoga Girl.” Get it on the blog. In related news, not too many places around here do the mango lassi evoked in the song, but Chopstix does something akin, with honeydew, cantelope and passionfruit bubble teas. Now its Monterey (372-2622) and Seaside (899-2622) locations accept credit cards, pour beer and wine, and deliver across the Peninsula.
• Pacific Grove’s two new hottest spots keep cooking. Dory Ford’s got new dinner hours and a winemaker dinner with Bernardus, on Friday, Dec. 9, at Point Pinos Grill (648-5774): Five paired courses like braised rabbit with roasted chanterelles paired with 2008 Pinot Noir ($68++). Carl Alasko’s cooking up family dinner Tuesdays at il Vecchio (324-4282, see story, previous page): From 5-6:30pm, adults and kids eat for just $15 and $8, respectively, with fresh pastas, roast chicken, rock cod, steamed veggies and salad served family style.
• The local chapter of the American Culinary Federation (915-9357) delivers a holiday dinner-food drive Tuesday, Dec. 6, at Rancho Cañada. You bring the canned goods for The Food Bank for Monterey County and Chef Christian Sprecher brings goods like fennel-orange-pomegranate salad and baked salmon with dijon aioli for $35.
• How sweet today (Dec. 1) is: For National Pie Day our Elena Salsedo-Steele of Sweet Elena’s Bakery & Cafe (393-2063) is chopping 50 percent of all pies and slinging slices for $2.
• A wild Tudor wine dinner at Andre’s Bouchee (626-7880) pushes up through the undergrowth Wednesday, Dec. 7. Dan Tudor leads a fungi hike a day earlier, then six courses like winter black truffles baked in puff pastries or local farm-raised rabbit stuffed with wild local porcinis and foie gras are married with select Pinots from his exclusive library ($120).
• “If it’s true that men are such beasts,” Day once said, “this must account for the fact that most women are animal lovers.”