The Fetch-it 360 team’s journey to find the perfect cocktail led us to the beautiful and elegant Rittenhouse Hotel. Located on the west side of the park.  The boutique hotel is tucked away off of the street and is truly a luxurious property in both aesthetics and offerings.

papi1
When we walk in we, of course, head straight for the Library Bar. Aptly named, the foyer and cozy lounge area is, well, a library.  Beautiful leather chairs, 12 foot high bookshelves with an array of titles and and metal chandelier make for a a very relaxing environment to drink away a long day of work or to casually converse with friends old and new.

As you pass through into the bar proper the elegance continues. Six feet high stainless steel wine refrigerators bookend the huge center mirror engraved with a a sleek street map of Philadelphia.  This is a fantastic place to start a night on the town or settle in for a night cap.

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But as grand as the decor is it takes only seconds to realize that the main attraction here is our host and master mixologist, Papi Hurtado.  Now, being a semi professional drinker, you hear the term mixologist bandied about with pretty loose connotations. So, as we greet each other I am assuming that I will be able to enjoy a great cocktail and meet a new friend.  I cannot tell you how badly I underestimated what was coming my way.  To coin a phrase these drinks were frankly transcendent.

As Papi explains that he will be giving us a variety of cocktails we begin chatting. Papi is originally from Colombia and began traveling internationally as a young teenager with his parents.  He had originally decided to join the Colombian Marines and worked up to a 2nd lieutenant.  

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His path to becoming a bartender was born of complete necessity.  Realizing that the violence in his country he decides that perhaps his choice of a military career may not be the best choice. He turns to bar tending.  Studying for three years at the London Academy of Bartenders. Then traveling the world.

He was traveling through Brazil and realized he had run out of money. He tried to call some family members. Finally, getting through to his grandfather asking for a quick cash infusion, only to be rebuffed.

So he approached a couple of Americans working at a busy beach bar. With no experience, they were not too keen on hiring him. But Papi can speak around 5 languages and with all of the international travelers, he was able to strike a deal and became a bartender in Brazil for the next 6 months.

Video of Making the Papi Collins

As were chatting and sipping he begins to tell us about the second of three cocktails he will be making. It’s called the Papi Collins.

Papi Collins:

  • Gin
  • Cucumber
  • Lime Juice
  • Thyme Nectar
  • Champagne

 

papi4As he is preparing the drink we ask him how he came up with the cocktail.  If the Brazil story was unique and fun, this one is just plain impressive.  He tells us that he entered into a mixology contest in London where he was one of 2400 contestants. It was an “Iron Chef” style event where contestants were given a box of items and they were given two minutes to create a drink with everything in the box and anything at the bar they wanted to add.

Lots of people enter these things and come up with something interesting to take with them.  The only thing different about Papi and this drink is that he won the whole thing. Grand Prize.

Nodding our heads we are starting to really look forward to this drink. But as we quickly learn, it’s not just about the drink, it is also very much about the show.  He begins a technique that he calls “The Papi Drop”.

Years ago he was becoming frustrated at his inability to gently float champagnes on top of a cocktail. He created this Technique where he pulls out a long cocktail spoon and locks the blunt end with his thumb into the top of the champagne bottle. He tilts it all at a right angle with the spoon end about an inch deep in the drink. As the champagne pours down the stem of the spoon it looks as if it is spinning along the twists of the stem. A very fun effect to be sure.

But this is no gimmick as the golden hue of the champagne sits ever so gently on top of the lovely green concoction below.

Drink completed we stir and begin to sip.  The beautiful richness of the thyme nectar mixes seamlessly with the gin and cucumber.   As we sip we realize the “Papi Drop” is something beautiful indeed. There is but a faint undertone of carbonation that allows the dry Brut to ground the drink without the expected soda like quality.  As we finish our first few sips we also realize that the cumber lingers delightfully in the back.

This drink is unbelievably savory and so delicious. It is a quintessential Slow Summer Sipping Drink..  So full of flavor and beautifully refreshing. I could almost feel the sun shining on my face as I slowly imbibed.

Half way through the Papi Collins, my mood is the best it’s been in about a week.  Sinking into my chair completely satiated, Papi reminds us that we have another cocktail to try.

But I quickly perk up when Papi tells us that he is going to make us “The best Old Fashion in the entire city”!!!!! Huh? Did he actually just throw that down on us?  So I ask him to repeat himself and, for sure, he wasn’t kidding.   

The Making of the Old Fashion Video

You can imagine, with all of the drinks I try and bartenders I meet that I absolutely cringe when people say things like this. So why? But hey go for it. Considering how impressed I am with the Papi Collins I am willing to walk down this road and he begins to make his Old Fashion.

Old Fashion

  • Bourbon
  • Sugar
  • Bitters
  • Orange Bitters (homemade)
  • Orange
  • Amarena Cherry
  • Amarena Juice

 

papi6He starts with cherry juices and bitters.  No fruit and no muddling.  Stirring together the ingredients and slowly adding the bourbon a little at a time.  Then it goes from drink making to magic trick.

As he takes a big piece of orange peel warms it with a flame and then squeezes the oils onto the lighter which results in a surprisingly large burst of flame that perfumes the drink and then uses the peel as a garnish with some cherries.  He finishes with a spritz of his own homemade orange bitters.

As I take the first sips it becomes abundantly clear that he wasn’t boasting at all. This is easily the smoothest Old Fashion I have ever tasted. Completely balanced in every way and almost no hint of bitterness or burn from the bourbon.  I have to capitulate and say that I cannot remember ever having one better in the city.

As we again begin to lose ourselves in our drinks. Papi begins to make another one for a patron who has sat at the bar.  His name is Chris and he is in town on business from Connecticut.   We ask his opinion.  He tells us that he prefers to drink old fashions and he starts nodding his head and smiling.  Agreeing that this is a pretty fantastic drink and he can only think of a couple in Manhattan that might be able to rival it.

It’s not to often that we finish an entire drink when we do tastings. We are working after all. But I can tell you that there wasn’t a drop left of anything by the time we got done.  Papi has impressed.  

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The Library Bar at the Rittenhouse Hotel
210 W Rittenhouse Square
Philadelphia PA, 19103
www.rittenhousehotel

 

Does the Library Bar at the Rittenhouse Hotel have the perfect cocktail? Head over and try for yourself. Tell them Fetch-it 360 sent you.

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