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.
"I wanted to create a list that had a cross-section of drinks you can take your time and sip and drinks you can down in 30 seconds," says Saul Ranella, head bartender of the newly opened craft cocktail and beer bar Battery Harris in Williamsburg.
This means that alongside boozy, spirituous stirred drinks (think Negroni and Old Fashioned riffs) you'll find lighter, more traditionally summer-friendly shaken cocktails. "I like to make drinks that read on the menu like they shouldn't work, and then when you try them you're totally blown away by how it comes together," adds Ranella. By way of example he points to the Black Eagle, an amaro sour that pairs Averna, rye, lime juice, and mint.
Another drink, the Bloodsport, also features unlikely partners: pisco and rye whiskey. It hints at Ranella's penchant for Peruvian ingredients and flavors. A 15-year industry veteran, he opened La Mar Cebicheria in San Francisco, then came to New York to put together the cocktail program for the Flatiron outpost. "I love working with Pisco, it's kind of a hidden gem—it's an amazing ingredient and so versatile," says Ranella, who even spent time apprenticing for a master pisco distiller in Peru.
"We tried to build a cocktail program that could stand up but offer it in a really casual atmosphere. We want to encourage people to linger," says Ranella. And given the large open-air backyard—the space is the former home of Loreley's Williamsburg outpost—there's plenty of room to do so.
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.