First Look: Cocktails at Demi Monde, NYC
This swanky new Financial District lounge is one of the most highly anticipated openings of the season, with no shortage of big names at the helm. Alex Day and David Kaplan (who founded Death and Co. in the East Village) developed the cocktails along with bar manager Scott James Teague, formerly of Pegu Club. (There will also be food from Philip Kirschen-Clark, formerly of Vandaag, and later in the summer, the upstairs space will become a daytime coffee bar with beans from LA's Handsome Coffee Roasters.)
Though Kaplan, Day, and Teague are known for classic cocktails, Demi Monde's bartenders won't be stirring up the drinks you've seen a million times before. "There are a lot of bubbles here," said Day, "lots of liveliness, lots of fun. We're embracing effervescence."
There's very little on top of the bar to separate the bartender from the customer; only a sleek custom soda carbonation system that allows for adjusting the pressure and dispensing speed on the super-cold soda. "The rate that you add carbonated water to a cocktail affects how it integrates into the drink; how much gas, how much foam," notes Day, who says many of their cocktails were inspired by a old-school soda fountain techniques.
Demi Monde put their fancy seltzer to use in a number of house-made sodas in flavors like celery and strawberry-tarragon—they can be served unmixed or with whichever spirits you prefer. The sodas also appear in a number of Demi Monde's signature cocktails, including a pineapple coconut soda served with lime and rum. Essentially, it's a pina colada, but the frothy fizz and understated sweetness keeps it from being dense or heavy. For tartness, one drink uses acid phosphate to add acidity without lemon or lime flavor, while another employs verjus, the sour green juice made from unripe wine grapes.
Bubbles also come in vinuous form—if you're looking for a glass of wine you'll find small-producer Champagne, but there's no still wine on the printed menu. (You can ask for a house red or white verbally, though, if you must.) Quite a few of the cocktails are lightened with sparkling wine, as well.
But fizz isn't the only focus at Demi Monde—the cocktails tend complex and refreshing flavor and spirit combinations, with a focus on brandy in all forms—you'll find a number of different brandies, pisco, and cognac, and apple brandies from Normandy and New Jersey.
Why brandy? "For some reason I'm excited about brandy right now," Day told us. "Spirits like calvados are so perfect for the elegant space at Demi Monde, and for someone just getting into spirits," he noted, as well as for those who are tired of tasting the same variations on the classics. "I feel like what we're doing here is a natural extension of the classic cocktail bar, with its fanatic understanding of ingredients."
Check out a few of Demi Monde's cocktails in the slideshow above, or head downtown to sip them yourself.