Lurie De La Rosa of PDT Asks That You Put Your Pants on and Leave

"Our hostess opened the door to see this man taking his pants off."
Photo: Melissa Hom

Lurie De La Rosa knows a thing or two about cocktails: She worked at Pegu Club under Audrey Saunders (her New York mom) and with Jim Meehan, who asked her to help him open his debut spot PDT. I wasnt sure what he meant by a hot dog bar, she tells us. Indeed PDT is unique in that it pairs Crif Dogs with Snoop Dogg, something De La Rosa says was scary for a little bit. I came from this world of classic music and jazz. But she has adjusted admirably and is now part of a family that includes Wylie Dufresne, David Chang, and the occasional naked patron.

First, the question everyone always asks whats the best way to score a reservation?
The lines open at 3 p.m. and the bookings [for that day] are done by 4 p.m. The hostess is literally like, Im going to get a cup of coffee now, because were booked. 6 p.m. is a good time for people to stop by [for one of the bar seats]. We dont sit four at the bar its usually one, two, or three. Late at night is greatbefore last call. But dont waste your time coming to PDT if you just want a rum and Coke why go through all that when you can get that anywhere?

Okay, so its annoying when people order boring mixed drinks. Any other pet peeves?
To ask, Can I have that cocktail but with vodka? The bartenders sometimes spend months working on a cocktail. Ill have to explain, We cant serve it that way because the gin is infused with roses and thats part of the cocktail.

What do you say to someone who says something like, Whats good that has tequila in it?
I might recommend a tequila old-fashioned. If they like a margarita I might suggest the El Puente. It has a rinse of mescal, and it has a dry vermouth and tequila and a lime-juice element. Its a little bit dry.

Is dry part of the cocktail lexicon?
Dry means its sort of a simple cocktail it stays more true to the spirit; theres not much of a juice element.

Do people try to show off their cocktail knowledge?
The funniest thing is men that come in and theyre a little bit afraid of the glasses; theyre like, Dont give me anything thats in that little girlie glass. Or theyre like, Get me something strong. I say, Im going to get you a Staggerac its 147-proof. Its funny to watch them sit through that. Its like having four drinks in one.

Youre sort of an industry clubhouse; who can you find there on an average night?
People from Momofuku, Tailor, Per Se, Blue Hill. All the bartenders from Milk and Honey, Death & Co., Little Branch... In some way they feel like were a little family.

Is there a mayor of PDTsomeone whos there all the time?
Wylie Dufresne and his wife have a standing [weekly] reservation. Theyre bar people. Hes really into trying what the bar is working on.

Do industry types have to go through the reservationist like everyone else, or do you hook them up?
Thats one of the perks of knowing someone that works here; you can give them a call and say, I would like to come in tonight put me on the list for a reservation. Yes, well do that for you.

So does David Chang come in and eat the Chang dog?
I think he came in once and had it. He usually likes his whiskey on the rocks.

Have there been other inventions like that?
John Deragon created the bagel hot dog it was a moment of genius for him. Its basically a deep-fried, half-pork-half-beef Crif Dog with scallions and cream cheese its so wrong its so good.

Do people get confused about the telephone booth that serves as your front door?
One night this gentleman was really drunk and bought a Crif Dog g-string. He thought it was the bathroom. He was in the phone booth and our hostess opened the door to see this man taking his pants off. He didnt have his g-string on yet. We were horrified. I was like, Please get your pants on and leave!