I knew it was a holiday trick to get me in the door. When I read in Eater's email that the Original Dinerant was offering a new stunt food cocktail called "the Red Eye Cocktail" with a main ingredient of warm Thanksgiving gravy, along with Wild Turkey and rum and strip of bacon. I was 75% appalled, and 25% intrigued. A work colleague moved my intrigue percentage up when she asked me about it, and so taking one for the team, I went to try it.
I admit I summoned some courage at Bailey's Taproom first.
But then it was time for the Original Dinerant. When I asked the hostess about it, she told me it was usually on their brunch menu, but they good-naturedly hustled to produce it. Another worker from the kitchen (by his outfit, I am guessing here... it might have even been the originator of the recipe but he was here and gone in a flash) even came by to ask me how it was only a few minutes after I received it and unfortunately had not tried it yet as it was still quite warm and I was steeping the bacon for extra flavor.
According to the Thrilllist recipe from the Executive Chef, it calls for 3 oz of hot liquid brown gravy (I don't understand the specification for it to be in liquid form...), 1 1/2 oz American honey Wild Turkey, 1/2 oz Cruzan black strap rum, 3 oz coffee, 1 oz hot water, and 1 piece of bacon. If there was any coffee in it, I did not detect any. The recipe called for salt and pepper on the plate, but I would have preferred if it had been all pepper- those salt granules were pretty big.
It tasted more like a light gravy broth with a kicky burn at the tail end in my throat. It was similar to how chicken broth is not the same thing as creamy thick chicken soup. I would always pick the soup over broth because the soup has a thicker texture and more flavor... but there are some broths that offer quite a bit of flavor even while being thin. This gravy was not like that. Really, the key is that you better have really quality tasty gravy to make this drink work. After having amazing gravy at various places such as Screen Door and Dahlia Workshop, perhaps I have serious standards for gravy. I was looking for a savory drink, but this was not savory enough because of its watered down nature and a gravy that didn't have a stronger profile to be the foundation for this admittedly new look at a hot holiday drink.
The Dinerant saved my dinner experience with my totally indulgent dinner plate. On the menu, it is listed as the "Chicken Double Down ham, gruyere, honey mustard". It comes with a side of soup salad or fries that you can upgrade to poutine or chili cheese fries. I went with the poutine (aka fries with cheese curds and gravy). When it came out, I was a little frightened. I confirmed that they need some serious help on their gravy.
But wow, that sandwich is good. Instead of buns, you just have fried chicken breasts holding together your sandwich of ham and cheese. Just. For $12.95 this is an awesome value for a sandwich too. I am having the other half of the sandwich today for dinner and am sorta excited.