It's not often you see a cocktail that uses fresh kale juice—in fact, I'm not sure I've seen it ever, but a bright and gingery kale cocktail is right at home on Jason Mendenhall's constantly-changing cocktail menu at The Wayland, which opened one month ago on Avenue C in New York's East Village.
Mendenhall and chef-partner Robert Ceraso share one side of the bar's space: the kitchen is just two cooktops, and the two share ingredients, leading to food-friendly drinks that easily complement the dishes on the menu. Homemade jams and chutneys, bitters, and sodas come together with herbs (soon to be grown in The Wayland's plot at the community garden across the street), spices, and a well-edited spirits selection in Mendenhall's cocktails.
"We aim to be an unpretentious neighborhood bar," says Mendenhall, and the space is casual and warm, decorated with cabinets from Ceraso's grandparents' house, antique glassware, and wood reclaimed from a recently demolished neighborhood school. There's a piano against one wall and they'll have live music—including stylings from two multitalented bartenders, who'll step out from behind the bar for a song or two on quieter evenings.
We tried every drink on The Wayland's current cocktail menu, from the ginger-kale margarita to the spiced and spiked mezcal hot chocolate. Check them all out in the slideshow.