Note: First Looks give previews of new drinks and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots and interviews with bars and restaurants, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations.
According to Joe Campanale, beverage director and co-owner of a growing empire of Manhattan dining destinations that includes dell' Anima, L'Artusi, Anfora, and now, L'Apicio, the answer to what links the world of wine and cocktails is a simple one.
"For me, it all comes back to balance: it's what you look for in a good wine and what you need to have in a good cocktail. You can have a cool idea or ingredient, but if the drink as a whole isn't balanced, you're not going to want to come back for another one."
But at Campanale's just-opened East Village spot, balance isn't the only commonality between the offerings on the wine and cocktail menus. The spirited selections are an exploration of both the Old and New World, just like the wine list. You'll find new twists on classics and a playful integration of Italian ingredients—there's a white Negroni starring Cocchi Americano, for example, and a warm, spicy Manhattan variation that blends cinnamon-infused rye with Carpano Antica.
They're encouraging exploration with an entire list of apertivi—Lillet Blanc, Cynar, Campari, and the like—that are offered neat, chilled, on the rocks, or with soda. "Cocchi Americano is great on the rocks, but a lot of people might not know that, so my hope is that by offering them this way it'll spark people's curiosity," Campanale says.
These start-of-the-meal drinks also provide a window into the experience the restaurant hopes to offer as a whole. Explains Campanale, "The cocktails really give you a hint at what's to come from the food, the restaurant. The Dirty Spicy Martini, that heat, that's all Gabe. And the Aperol Spritz clues at the Italian influences." Take a peek at L'Apicio's cocktails—all $13—in the slideshow above.
Don't worry, we'll have a preview of the food for you soon!