The New York Times has been on a roll as of late. From the summer’s scathing critique of the beloved Aperol Spritz, to the latest brutal review of Brooklyn’s Peter Luger Steakhouse, the Times opinion column is making it clear that no popular food trend is safe from its wrath (that’s right, oat milk and boozy boba, you better watch out). But, exactly how damaging are these articles? Should Campari and Peter Luger start saving their money, or is one damning article even enough to threaten the empires these icons have built?
In the case of the Aperol Spritz, I’m all but convinced the Times actually shot themselves in the foot. The Aperol Spritz was the ultimate cocktail of Summer 2019 (and every summer before, frankly). Characterized by the luxurious fizz of Prosecco, the sharp bitterness of Aperol, and, of course, that eye-catching bright orange hue, the Aperol Spritz adorned just about every boozy brunch and aperitif table in the world over the summer.
Indeed, the Aperol Spritz seemed to even be gaining the momentum needed to surpass frosé as the most in-demand basic bitch drink of the season. But, alas, The New York Times came along to crush all of our bubbly, toxically orange dreams. Rebekah Peppler, author of the harshly worded article, “The Aperol Spritz is Not a Good Drink,” decries the cocktail with descriptions such as, “The popular, Instagram-friendly aperitif drinks like a Capri Sun after soccer practice on a hot day” and the blunt, “But there is a problem: the Aperol Spritz isn’t actually good.”
Sorry to all the Aperol Spritz lovers out there, but you are most definitely not supported by the Times. However, it seems as though the Aperol-lovers might actually have the upper hand on the paper. After the article was published, people took to Twitter to unleash their enduring and Times-defying support of the now controversial drink.
When asked to comment on the article, Campari (the makers of Aperol), simply stated that they were grateful for the millions of people worldwide who drink and enjoy their liqueur. And, despite the lack of positive feedback from the Times, Campari is right, there are a lot of people out there who look forward to their Friday night Aperol Spritz (or three) after a long week. So though the New York Times may be the most-revered news source, that doesn’t mean the paper is all right all the time. It might not exactly be fake news, but the Aperol Spritz will always have our hearts.
Alright, so we’ve determined that a bad article can’t do much damage to a popular cocktail, but what about an extremely negative review of a restaurant? Two weeks ago, New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells published a horrible review of the well-known Brooklyn steakhouse, Peter Luger, entitled “Peter Luger Used to Sizzle. Now it Sputters.” The article goes on to detail the restaurant’s inconvenient customer-processing system, the rude service, and the bad food. In fact, Pete Wells hated his experience at Luger so much, he actually gave it zero stars. This is highly controversial, as Peter Luger is known as one of the top steakhouses in the city, and is a veritable NYC institution.
When the article first came out, the owner of Peter Luger told the New York Post that the steakhouse knows “who we are and have always been. The best steak you can eat. Not the latest kale salad.” Well…okay, but did this statement actually make any progress toward reversing the negative perceptions of Peter Luger that now haunt the brains of NY Times readers? According to HuffPost, Peter Luger still has a 4.7 out of 5 rating on Facebook. Additionally, it has thousands of very positive reviews, far more than it has negative ones.
It’s possible that Wells’ poor review got so much buzz that it is actually causing more people to dine at Peter Luger, so they can judge for themselves if it actually deserves zero stars. HuffPost also notes that other restaurants that have received zero stars from the Times, such as DaDong, are actually doing just fine and didn’t suffer severe business losses after its Times review was published.
There you have it. Although The New York Times seems to love skewering popular food trends and restaurants, its reviews may not actually have much power. People are still going to drink Aperol on hot sunny days in southern Italy (or on their couches in front of this week's Grey’s Anatomy episode), and people are still going to pay exorbitant prices for subpar steaks. It’s what we do. Now, pour yourself a spritz, grill up a steak, and maybe start reading a different newspaper.