US Export (all cocktails $12)
“I see this drink as a reflection of New York right now—whiskey, simplicity, a touch of spice, orchard fruit.” says Rockey of this multi-whiskey concoction. To the blend of Scotch, bourbon, rye, and Irish whiskeys, he adds dehydrated pear and quince chips, maple syrup, and Angostrua bitters. He explains that using the dried chips rather than fresh fruit allows the infusion to maintain its clarity and proof.
For his playful rendition on a Cosmopolitan, Rockey combines Swedish vodka with housemade cranberry juice, Luxardo Triplum, and lime oleo saccharum, an intensely flavorful oil he makes from the citrus peel that takes about four weeks to extract. Rather than shaking the cocktail over ice, Rockey opts instead to carbonate it. “The process gives it a similar but more lively texture than shaking would—it’s more fun and refreshing.”
Next of Kin
Although the restaurant has just been open over a week, Rockey says he began working on the base for this cocktail—a twist on a sour swizzle—about three months ago. The inspiration for the core ingredient, a pu-erh black tea kombucha, came from a dish of potatoes cooked in fallen leaves that he and chef Berselius shared at a restaurant in Sweden. The cocktail's name is an homage to Kinfolk Studios, says Rockey: "It’s an homage to the next stage in the evolution of the space, hence ‘Next of Kin’,” he says. Served simply over crushed ice, Rockey adds aquavit (a nod to the chef’s Swedish heritage) and a richly flavored caraway syrup to the tart kombucha base.
Passed-Bright Milk Punch
“I’m a big fan of milk punches—they’ve been made forever, you see them in many of the oldest cocktail books and I just find them to be visually stunning,” says Rockey. He opts for local Battenkill Valley Creamery milk in Aska's version, which features a combination of dark rum, white tequila, fennel, oolong tea, and orange juice. “I also love the milk aspect of the drink because it’s such a huge part of Swedish cuisine,” he says. Rockey claims that the milk is essential for clarifying the drink. When the milk gets broken with the citrus juice, he explains, the protein absorbs the color of the other elements. The broken milk gets strained off so the drink is completely clear and smooth.
“The original idea was to create a great, classic apéritif cocktail—it’s intended to satisfy the Martini or Vesper drinker,” he explains. For his gin-based interpretation, Rockey calls for Pineau des Charentes, a fortified wine from Cognac to which he adds a variety of aromatics including jasmine, rose petals, citrus peel, and some Swedish punsch to give unctuousness. Garnished simply with a lemon peel, the result is a clean but complex pre-dinner sipper.
“I wanted to create a drink to satisfy the current clientele—at night the place is busy, there’s music, dancing, and it just has a fun, raucous kind of atmosphere,” he says of the idea behind their housemade boozy energy drink. To the naturally sweet, buzz-inducing base, which includes ginseng, ginkgo biloba, and grapefruit zest, Rockey adds a splash of sparkling pear cider for texture. The name, he explains, references the Red Bull logo, swapping in the “hare” in honor of Kinfolk’s rabbit mascot.
“Shandies are one of my favorite drinks, so I wanted to create a winter version,” says Rockey of this warm yet refreshing variation on the summer classic. In a nod to the restaurant's neighboring Brooklyn Brewery, the drink fuses the wort of one their special reserve brews with a little Brooklyn Brown ale. Malt syrup and puréed persimmon get added to the base. "It's low alcohol so it's intended to be something that you can drink quickly—or as quickly as you want—without really messing you up," he explains.
Warm Swedish Punch
For their revitalized rendition of a classic Swedish punsch, Rockey creates an aromatic Batavia Arrack base infused with sweetfern and juniper harvested from the Hudson Valley. Raw sugar and citrus are then added, and the drink is finished simply with hot water, or tea or hot cider if desired.