Note: First Looks give previews of new drinks and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations.
"With the new spring cocktail list there's a big change in terms of seasonality, of course—things that are lighter, more refreshing—but also a philosophical shift where we're focused on making drinks that are more cohesive with the food," explains Sean Kelly, bar manager at NoHo's Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria.
"We want to encourage people to drink and dine Italian at the same time," he continues. On the menu, that gentle push reveals itself in the form of several cocktails starring classic Italian amari. You'll find smooth, rich Carpano Antica Formula tempering bitter Campari in the Antica, an Americano variation featuring fresh citrus juice. And in the Doppio, minty Amaro Nonino and bitterwsweet Aperol add to the fresh, herbal profile of the drink's Thai basil-infused Basil Hayden bourbon.
This symbiotic relationship between bar and kitchen is also why you'll find ingredients like Calabrian chilies on the cocktail list. In the Thai-inspired Tom Yum, the chilies are used with Kaffir lime and lemongrass to create a spicy-savory vodka infusion. "We're looking to add more spice to the drink menu—it helps whet the appetite and get you ready for our food," explains Kelly.
Soon the bar will be pulling from the restaurant's growing rooftop herb garden, as well as borrowing ingredients like fresh peach purée from the pastry department to use in a Bellini. "We're trying to incorporate what the kitchen is already doing, making sure it gets carried over to the drink program," says Kelly.
About the author: Maryse Chevriere is a card-carrying cocktail geek on a mission to keep her glass (at least) half full. You can find her behind the bar preaching about peculiar wine at Terroir Park Slope and follow her spirited musings on Twitter @Maryse_Chev1224.