On our trip to New York last year, Isabel and I were lucky enough to enjoy dinner at Andy Ricker’s supremely hyped Pok Pok. The meal was very memorable, but perhaps the biggest revelation came while we were waiting for our table, dining and drinking in the adjacent (and also Ricker-operated) Whiskey Soda Lounge. Pok Pok doesn’t accept reservations, so the business case for WSL is to capture the overflow of wannabe diners while they wait upwards of 2 hours for their table. But a less cynical view is that it offers a slice of aahaan kap klaem—the unique, small plate, drinking food of Thailand. While Ricker seems to hate the ‘A-word’ (authentic), the place really did feel a lot closer to Bangkok than Brooklyn.
The one item that jumped off the menu for me was the fruit flavoured drinking vinegars. Diluted with soda water, tart and sweet, the drink seemed like the perfect summer beverage – even on the cold December night I was introduced to it.
So as a present for our anniversary, Isabel gave me a bottle of the pineapple-flavoured som. After a Sunday of biking and grilling in the park, we cracked open the bottle and had a glass of summer. Poured over ice, and mixed 4:1 (four parts soda water, 1 part vinegar), the result is tart and sweet and awesome. We tossed in some mint from Isabel’s rapidly expanding potted plant collection and added a dash of bourbon, and the result was pretty incredible.