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.
"The story of Grace O'Malley is one I've been wanting to tell for a long time," says co-owner Danny McDonald of the inspiration behind the just-opened Murray Hill spot, Grace Gaelic Hospitality. "This is our tribute to the Pirate Queen of Ireland, her life's story, and to the history of Gaelic hospitality under the Brehon laws."
Here, the 16th century figure has inspired everything from the design of the space (each of the rooms and enclaves is dedicated to one of Grace's various strongholds) to the food and drink menus. "Grace's is a story of female empowerment, so it made a lot of sense to have a cocktail menu designed by an all-female team," explains McDonald. The pub's diverse cast of cocktail collaborators which includes industry veterans Jane Elkins (formerly of Booker & Dax), Eryn Reece (Death & Co, Mayahuel), Ms. Franky Marshall (The Dead Rabbit, The Tippler), Ivy Mix (Clover Club, Speed Rack co-founder), Jane Danger (The NoMad), Lucinda Sterling (Middle Branch), Lynette Marrero (Speed Rack co-founder), Meaghan Dorman (Raines Law Room), Pamela Wiznitzer (The Dead Rabbit), Charlotte Voisey (Willam Grant & Sons Portfolio Ambassador), and Lynn House (PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur National Brand Ambassador).
Each cocktail creator was tasked with a point of inspiration from Grace's life story and legacy. "Some of the names and inspirations have geographical pertinence, others reference the characters in her life," says McDonald. The Clare Island cocktail, for example, is named after Grace's Clew Bay headquarters, while the Irish coffee-inspired Blind Abbott is a nod to her brother-in-law and close ally. "I think most of us took the structure of classic cocktails and worked from there," explains Elkins.
McDonald is quick to note that the inspiration cues didn't feel restrictive. "Whether we're talking about the food menu or the drink menu, it's really a source that you can go anywhere from, because she did. She was heavily involved in trade—spices, sherry—and she had a huge cognac collection, just to name a few examples. Her realm and reach was limitless."
About the author: Maryse Chevriere is a card-carrying beverage 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 and Instagram @marysechev.