Tag Archives: cocktails

Cocktail Hour: Sazerac

The Sazerac was invented in New Orleans in the 19th century by a bartender who loved Sazerac, the French brandy.  Today rye whiskey forms the base of a cocktail that is incredibly aromatic and sippable thanks to an herbsaint rinse (like a pastis or absinthe), brandy and bitters.  It’s a slightly softer, jazzier Manhattan.  In other words, it’s all New Orleans.

You can order a delicious version at Peel’s, the new restaurant on the Bowery from the people who own Freeman’s.  Or you can make your own for cocktail hour.  Here’s a recipe from Esquire that seems quite good.

from esquire.com

Cheers.

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Cocktail Inspiration from Public

public drinks

I’ve loved on Public for awhile.  The cool design, the creative menu, the amazing cocktails.  Since we’re on the cusp of a three-day weekend, which promises to be full of fun and maybe a party or two, I thought I’d share a couple of photos from my last cocktails there (thanks Noah, totally rad bartender from Boston).  Maybe it’ll inspire you this weekend.

On the cocktail menu at Public:

 

Strawberry and Thai Basil Mojito
White rum muddled with fresh strawberries, thai basil, aged balsamic, lime and soda
USD 12
Guava and Red Chili Margarita
Sauza Blanco tequila infused with red chili, lime juice, orange liqueur and guava puree
USD 12
Grape and Apple-Mint Caipiroska
Bison grass vodka muddled with apple-mint, grapes and vermouth bianco 
USD 12
Kiwifruit and Green Tea Fizz
42 Below kiwifruit vodka with kiwifruit, green tea, honey, lime and soda
USD 12
Strawberry and Thai Basil Mojito
White rum muddled with fresh strawberries, thai basil, aged balsamic, lime and soda
USD 12
Guava and Red Chili Margarita
Sauza Blanco tequila infused with red chili, lime juice, orange liqueur and guava puree
USD 12
Grape and Apple-Mint Caipiroska
Bison grass vodka muddled with apple-mint, grapes and vermouth bianco 
USD 12
Kiwifruit and Green Tea Fizz
42 Below kiwifruit vodka with kiwifruit, green tea, honey, lime and soda
USD 12
Clear Ginger Cosmopolitan
Ginger infused Tito’s vodka shaken with orange liqueur, white cranberry and lime juice
USD 12
Bitter Grapefruit Martini
Plymouth gin with sweet vermouth, grapefruit juice, Aperol and egg white
USD 12
Maple Hook Manhattan
Sazerac rye whiskey with maple syrup, maraschino liqueur and lemon juice
USD 12
Loomi Lime Gimlet
House infused 42 Below black lime vodka, with a cassia dust
USD 12
Visit the restaurant website at: www.public-nyc.com

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Cocktails: Bubbles Deluxe

I previewed Smith's new Sparkling Rose cocktails... a very special drink, indeed. 

 

Last week I previewed Smith's new Sparkling Rose cocktails... a very special drink, indeed.

Everyone loves a little champers (or one of its sisters like prosecco and cava).  It’s a happy, celebratory thing that, when mixed with the right ingredients, becomes a rather dreamy, bubbly nectar.  Call me corny for loving the champagne cocktail, and definitely label me a total girl, but I think it’s time to give champagne cocktails their due.  

I was inspired by my tasting of the Sparkling Rose, a new cocktail hitting the list at Smith’s next week (you heard it hear first, folks!).  It’s like taking a sip of spring itself.  Smith’s resident mixologist Scott Dansby offered up the ingredients: muddled raspberry, lychee and rose syrups, lime zest and prosecco.  It’s $14, and you get an added treat- a raspberry-rose macaroon from Sweet Chick Boutique Patisserie.  

Here are a few other cocktails from my favorite bars/lounges, all of whom are doing their part to take champers to a new level of awesome, due in part to their clever little names…

Bemelman’s Bar 35 E. 76th St, UES (wildly expensive but the atmosphere and snack tray makes it so worth it)

The Champino: Campari, Sweet Vermouth, Lemon, Champagne

Employees Only 510 Hudson St, West Village

Kumquat Sangaree: Kumquats candied with Allspice, blended with demi-sec Mumm’s $18

Marlow and Sons 81 Broadway, Williamsburg (cocktails $9 each)

The Gay Monday: Gin, Grapefruit, Lime, Egg White, Sparkling Wine 

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things: Wild Turkey Rye, Fernet Branca, Sparkling Wine, Orange

Bubble Lounge (champagne cocktails $16)

Paris Blossom: Champagne Henriot Brut and St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

Champagne Cocktail: Enrico Prosecco , Sugar Cube, Brandy, Grand Marnier & Angostura Bitters

Death and Company (champagne cocktails $14)

Dark’n’Bubbly: Champagne, Gosling Dark Rum, Curried Ginger Syrup, Fresh Lime Juice

North by Northwest: Champagne, Aviation Gin, Fresh Lemon Juice, St. George Absinthe

Miss Behavin’: Champagne, Clear Creek Pear Brandy, Laird’s Bonded Applejack, Fresh Lemon Juice

Public  210 Elizabeth St, Nolita (champagne cocktails $12)

Fig and Vanilla Bellini:  Prosecco with vanilla and fresh fig

Pear and Lemongrass Fizz: Grey Goose La Poire vodka, pear juice, lemongrass, lemon juice and prosecco

Freeman’s, end of Freeman’s Alley off Rivington, LES (all cocktails $12)

French 75: so classic. Gin, lemon juice, champagne

***

I also suggest visiting one of the following for fantastic cocktails (their menus weren’t available online and I was afraid of butchering the ingredients): Little Branch, Lower East Side Company Bar, PDT, Randolph and Pegu.

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A Better Kind of Bar Food

 

the new bar snack (and this one is free): curry popcorn at Tailor

the new bar snack (and this one is free): curry popcorn at Tailor

When did bar snacks go gourmet?  When New York chefs realized we love peanuts and pretzels, but deserve something better to go with our $12 cocktail.  Whenever I meet people for drinks, I’m always wary of getting hammered because there’s no food or eating crappy food because I’m hungry. Well, wary no more. Check out these fantastic bar offerings from restaurants across the city, many of them offering an updated version of traditional bar snacks:

BLT Fish Shack
All bar items are $9

Olive Oil Tuna Tartine with tapenade and quail eggs 

Red Snapper Fish Tacos with avocado, queso fresco 

Pork and Shrimp Slider with spicy mayo
 
Smith’s
Fried Burrata, $4

Sweet Shrimp Scampi, $6

Bacon Cheeseburger with blue cheese and an onion ring on toasted brioche, $13  

 
Braeburn
‘Pork Slap’ Beer Battered Onion Rings, $6

Warm Flatbread with wild mushrooms, red onion and queso fresco$10

Braised St. Louis Ribs with house-made bbq sauce, $11

Atria
Obatzda with shallots and pretzels, $8

Seared Swordfish with red pepper chutney and coriander, $11

Hanger Steak Wrap with sweet chili and fingerling potato chips, $12

Tailor

Huitalacoche Corn Dogs $11

Fried Oysters Rockefeller $11

Homemade Smoked Mozzarella Stix with Piquillo Marinara $9

Cod Croquettes with Saffron Aioli $10

***

Atria: 13-15 W. 54th Street212-262-4600, www.atrianyc.com

Braeburn:117 Perry Street, 212-255-0696, www.braeburnrestaurant.com

Smith’s: 79 MacDougal Street212-260-0100, www.smithsnyc.com

BLT Fish: 21 West 17th Street, 212-691-8888, www.bltfish.com

Tailor: 525 Broome St, 212-334-5182, www.tailornyc.com

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To Make it Better, Blend it.

Going through my travel photos the last few months, I noticed that more than a few frozen drinks were consumed this summer.  It seems that they’re enjoying a renaissance, and rightfully so because you know what?  They’re delicious and they make me feel like a kid again…mostly because I know they’re probably really bad for me but I drink them up anyway.

pina colada in a mason jar at the Surf Lodge in Montauk

pina colada in a mason jar at the Surf Lodge in Montauk

Frozen Guava Rum Cooler at a Pig Roast in Montauk

Frozen Guava Rum Cooler at a Pig Roast in Montauk

Homemade Watermelon Margaritas in Martha's Vineyard- check out the fancy "Margaritaville" blender

Homemade Watermelon Margaritas in Martha's Vineyard- check out the "Margaritaville" master blender in background

BLENDER READING:

WHERE TO GO IN NYC FOR A FROZEN COCKTAIL:
  • Rusty Knot, 425 West St (West Side Highway, in W. Village), a “dive” bar from the owners of Spotted Pig and Freemans
  • El Quinto Pino, 401 W. 24th St in Chelsea.  Tiny, charming, romantic, TINY Spanish tapas spot that does a killer frozen horchata.  
  • Rayuela, 165 Allen St. in LES.  Awesome, if really sweet, pina colada with a rum floater.  You only need one, and at $15, it’s a good thing.

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Pimm’s Cup, the Fancy Cocktail any Idiot Can Make

Like Campari, Pimm’s is a mystery (no one knows the full recipe).  And as Campari is synonymous with Italian culture, so is the Pimm’s Cup to England.  It’s a gin-based spirit spiffed up with fruits, herbs and spices, giving it a reddish color and a complex flavor that’s slightly sweet with a hint of spice.  The best thing about Pimm’s is you can pretty much add anything to it and the end result is absolutely delicious.  My friend Lucy (of shandy fame) mixes it with french lemonade (has bubbles and is less sweet than regular lemonade) and fruits: oranges, cucumbers, strawberries, apples, and then mint (see photo below, being served at a recent pool party).  You can make a pitcher of it and let it infuse (sort of like the English answer to sangria).  No lemonade?  Try ginger ale, lemons and cucumbers.  Love club soda?  Add a splash to the cup.  Celebrating?  Do a Pimm’s Royale with cava or champagne and a strawberry for garnish.  Pimm’s is elegant, but deceptively easy..it really is an ideal summer cocktail.  Learn more here.

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Cool Girly Gin! Seriously!

I’m not suggesting men won’t like Hendrick’s Gin.  In fact, I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t love the elements of rose and cucumber in this small-batch spirit from Scotland.  What I am saying is that this gin is pretty, and for those familiar with the rather unsexy history of gin, you might get the sense that a pretty gin is…surprising.  Hendrick’s Gin is like the beautiful girl who went to Harvard and also knows what a first down is.  Ok, shocking.

Hendrick’s is pretty because it’s distilled with the oil pressed from the petals of a Bulgarian rose and the pulp from mashed fresh cucumbers.  It’s smart because it uses an old-school distillation process (carter-head stills, anyone?) to produce a super smooth gin. Wittiness abounds on the website…you’ll find natty illustrations and a few clever limericks to entertain you.   The taste is botanically-focused, aromatic, but don’t get me wrong, it is not some sweet substitute for gin. Remember the beautiful girl who knows football?  Hendrick’s is gin martini-worthy and is not to be confused with something along the lines of stoli vanilla, or worse, midori.  I’m still a fan of the traditional g+t, but I’ll definitely be experimenting with Hendrick’s this summer.   Fortunately the website offers lots of recipes, categorized under “The Usual” and “The Unusual.”   

Hendrick’s Gin is not yet widely distributed in the U.S. but definitely gaining exposure.  I had a Hendrick’s gin and tonic at the bar at the Soho Grand, where they served it, appropriately, in a tall glass with a slice of cucumber.

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Ammo in L.A. is a reason to heart L.A.

I’m in L.A. for business a couple of weeks ago, and on Saturday night I make plans for dinner with my friend Claire, a local artist who is also one of those super cool chicks in-the-know.  In L.A. that can be a dubious distinction, but Claire is first-class and has impeccable style. I trust her implicitly.  Ammo, she says, is one of her favorites.  Not scene-y, she warns/reassures.  The food is really clean, she says, and looking at me reflectively adds,  maybe too clean for you?  She knows my love of indulgence, and the tendency to go for anything fried, with cream and butter, or containing a plethora of ingredients. 

Maybe it’s that I’ve indulged too much when it comes to dining out, but lately I crave clean, simple food made of the absolute best ingredients.  That’s why I love Ammo.  Alot.   It’s in a boring part of Hollywood on a stretch of Highland Ave with not much else but Ammo.  The interior is earthy modern- lots of wood, exposed bulbs, fresh flowers.  It’s a California culinary zen den.  Here’s why I fell in love:

COCKTAILS: An absolutely ethereal cucumber mint martini.  Made with my new favorite gin, Hendrick’s (hints of rose mix well with cucumber), it was one of the most fresh and clean drinks I’ve imbibed in a long time.  Way later, after a couple glasses of Soave, my new favorite white wine, I had them make me a Negroni.  It was excellent, and that’s all I can really say because I had a real strong buzz happening at that point.

EATS: the ne plus ultra of arugula salads lives at Ammo.  I think Jesus grew the arugula.  Apparently it had been bought that morning at the farmer’s market (this is Ammo’s thing, super local and super fresh) and it was vibrant green, full of spice and a slight sweetness.  It held up well to a delish parmigiano reggiano, and served with olive oil and lemon.

We also had an amazing Ahi tuna tartare and a spaghetti with pancetta and sauteed bitter greens.  For dessert we had these homemade ice cream sandwiches that were pushed away with an “I can’t possibly eat that” and then promptly swallowed in full.  

SERVICE: We sat at the bar, which is always my preference.  Benny Bohm, the Austrian wine manager, was this really sweet guy who offered us fresh clementines that he had picked up at the farmer’s market on the way to work.  We fell in love with Benny.   

P.S. I know there are a lot of farmer’s market references here, and the words “California zen den” were used.  Before you break out the cut-offs, tie-dye, and teva look, please be aware this is a really sophisticated spot, with prices to match.  Check out the website for more details, menu, and pics.

Ammo, 1155 North Highland, Los Angeles, CA 323/871/2666

www.ammocafe.com

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Drink Aperol this Summer.

Aperol Spritz, Venetian-styleA spritz al’aperol is the perfect drink when you don’t know what you want for that first drink, only that you want it to be light, delicious, slightly citrus-y and not leave any lingering effects when it comes to transitioning into another cocktail or wine.  In existence since 1919, Aperol is a traditional Italian aperitivo.  I first had one in Venice last April when my girlfriends and I took a roadtrip through Italy.  It was so refreshing, and although my first spritz was served with an olive on a stick (see photo) every one I’ve had in New York is served with an orange slice.   My favorite spritz is served at Morandi…bonus if you can score an outside table to imbibe it.

Although really, this video sums all this up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLLrk1RI1Ik&NR=1

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I have a restaurant crush on…

Dell’Anima.  I dined there Monday night with my friend Nicole, who hinted that I might fall in love with the place.  She was right.  I realize I have a type when it comes to favorite spots.  It is this: unfussy, laid-back vibe, nice people,  with food I could eat every night, but can’t really execute myself.  I’m a big fan of perfect execution.  That said, I ate at the chef’s counter and saw precision in action.  Watching these guys (and one very cool girl) produce dinner for me and everyone else in the place was really fun.  For those who don’t want to see the substantial amount of butter used in the sauce to make ricotta ravioli and almost every other pasta on the menu, or if you have an aversion to smelling a little like roasted garlic when you leave, there are tables in the front and dining at the bar.  Dell’Anima reminds me of Lupa in terms of simplicity and the focus on seasonal ingredients, but it’s smaller and the menu easier (while it only offers 4 entrees, it does have 9 pastas on the menu).  It’s a fantastic place for a date, or for an intimate dinner with friends.  This place is a keeper!  Here’s the breakdown:

COCKTAILS: A really beautiful Roasted Orange Negroni ($12) and an ever-refreshing Aperol Spritz ($8).  For those who don’t know Aperol, stay tuned as I plan on devoting a chapter to the awesomeness of the spritz. 

WINE: Barbera “Vigna Clara,” Viberti 1996 from Piemonte ($13).  I was perplexed by its cloudiness when my server poured it, but in fact it was a really nice full-bodied barbera with a dry finish.  They offer a good selection of wines by the glass and an extensive bottle list. 

EATS: Avocado bruschette was like Italian guacamole- mashed avo with lots of lemon and sicilian olive oil spread over toast. Super fresh.

Arugula salad with lemon and shaved parmigiano-reggiano. This was only ok, and I can’t believe I’m going to say this but the salad was over-cheesed.  When you can’t taste the spiciness of arugula, there’s a problem.  And I don’t think it was the arugula. 

Ricotta ravioli was formerly the “secret dish” at Dell’Anima, but they’ve since added it to the menu.  The raviolis look like plump pillows in a simple sauce of olive oil, butter- more than you want to believe, cracked black pepper, and finished with pecorino.  It’s indulgent and addictive, but that’s the only one we tried.  Nicole wasn’t into ordering every pasta on the menu so I had to content myself with pasta observation: tagliatelle bolognese, the risotto, orecchiette, and garganelli all caused severe watering of the mouth.

Entrees: hake, a delicious flaky white fish (that I sadly never see on any menu) seared and served over juicy artichokes and tuna bresaola, the latter which seemed more like plate decoration than anything of culinary worth, and the chicken “al diavolo.”  The chicken was a killer version served over wilted spinach, spiced perhaps with paprika or cayenne, and notable for a good crispy skin and super moist meat.

Dessert: Espresso Almond cake with sweet cream gelato and candied almonds.  This was really damn good. Almost incredibly so.

INFO: www.dellanima.com

38 Eighth Ave nr Jane St

.Bruschette- Avocado with Sicilian Olive OilRicotta-filled Pillows of Love

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