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.
Sometime in the fall of 2011, Leif Huckman dreamt he was walking down Broadway. Though not the north-south avenue that bisects Times Square like a pageant sash. Instead, he found himself with his back to Manhattan, walking east in Williamsburg. He envisioned a sign above 27 Broadway at the corner of Dunham Place that simply read "Donna," the name of his Honduran-born grandmother. The dream came at a time when he was looking to open a cocktail bar that would pay homage to his heritage and take stock in tequila and mezcal. That dream became reality in April 2012. One year and another season later, bar manager Jeremy Oertel and resident bartender Matt Belanger have unveiled a new set of spring cocktails.
"One of the great things about seasonal cocktails," Belanger says, "is the opportunity to incorporate fresh ingredients." But at Donna, you won't find bartenders slowly muddling fruit or other produce for each drink. Instead, the flavors of the season are incorporated into freshly made syrups and vinegar-based shrubs, such as a sweet-savory-spicy shrub made from strawberry, cilantro, and serrano peppers, which provides an unexpected mix of flavors in the Strawberry Sky. "We can make an Old Fashioned for somebody, or a Manhattan, but it's fun to give someone a new experience," explains Belanger.
About the Author: Craig Cavallo is a Serious Eats intern with an addiction to New York City's food and drink. Learn more about his problem at digestny.com.