In drinks at Atrium Dumbo, designed by PDT alum Payman Bahmani and Alexander LaPratt, a veteran of Jean-Georges and db Bistro Moderne, you'll find everything from exotic citrus and spices (kalamansi, ras el hanout) to everyday kitchen staples (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, bread.)
'first looks' on Serious Eats
The oddity of bright, eccentric murals in the middle of a classic, dark space underlines Brian McCracken and Dana Tough's struggle away from bar trends. Nobody else was paying much attention to scotch, they point out. "Smoked meats and malts," the sign proclaims over the door of the Old Sage, sibling to Tavern Law, Spur, and the Coterie Room, succinctly getting to the heart of the mater.
"This bottle alone costs approximately $600 retail," explained mixer Allie Kim as she handed over a bottle of Maotai. The Chinese government has given it out as a diplomatic gift, while newscaster Dan Rather famously once said it was like drinking "liquid razor blades." At newly opened River North Chinese spot Lao 18, they've incorporated it (in very small doses) into their cocktail program.
Why open yet another craft cocktail lounge in a city filled with them? "I saw a gap in the drinking scene in Chicago," Benjamin Schiller explains. "There wasn't a place where you could go and get a craft cocktail, but if you wanted a vodka soda you'd be treated the exact same way."
"This place is over the top," says bar manager Daniel Hyatt (formerly of The Alembic) of his new bar at Roka Akor in San Francisco's Jackson Square. We took a peek at the bar, the massive ice-making machine, and Hyatt's summer cocktails.
At ZZ's Clam Bar, cocktails from Thomas Waugh (formerly of Death & Co.) share equal billing with the food.
The Breslin's new cocktail menu includes everything from the adventurous Over the Edge, which features a pineapple-rosemary shrub made with lacto-fermented kimchi juice, to an easy-drinking variation on the French 75.
When diners arrive at Paul Qui's long awaited formal restaurant, simply named qui, they are first escorted to the bar, where bar manager Michael Simon and his team shake up pre-dinner beverages that can also be sipped on the restaurant's spacious patio. "There are lots of savory elements to the drinks," said Simon. "They're boozy but balanced; salty, sweet, and sour, so they can pair well with food."
"We're trying to tell a story of distillation in our drinks and on our menu," says Benjamin Wood, bartender at the newly opened TriBeCa spot, Distilled NY. The story, Wood says, is about "that process of starting out with one thing and transforming it into something new."
The new DC bar from husband and wife duo Derek Brown and Chantal Tseng has over 50 sherries on hand already.
Double Dragon got its start as a banh mi shop, but it's since grown into a full-fledged restaurant with a revamped food and cocktail menu. Here's a peek at the drinks from Nick Ramsdell, formerly of Yakuza.
On a trip to New York City, veteran Austin bartender Scranton Twohey visited 27 bars in 4 days, and after returning, he lamented the lack of creativity in Austin's cocktail scene. Twohey softly opened Whisler's in the old Rabbit Lounge on East 6th in mid-May, and allowed the word to spread organically.
When Kate Bolton and Alex Smith sat down to develop the drinks list for Novela, they found themselves facing a familiar challenge. How can you reconcile a craft cocktail program with a high-volume, potentially impatient clientele? The answer: punch on tap.
Each drink at the newly opened and much-anticipated Husk Nashville attempts to tell a story—start with setting, add a dash of history, build on character, and let the experience unfold.
Parson's is the latest restaurant venture of Land & Sea Dept., a Chicago-based cohort of design-savvy entrepreneurs whose best-known work, Longman & Eagle, is at once an ambitious, Michelin-starred dining destination and an old-school whiskey-pouring neighborhood tavern. With the introduction of Parson's, LSD's methodology grows clearer: melt down a few cultural-historical references (Southern rock, classic American cars, a black-and-white photo depicting circa-1970s-style revelry), tap a promising chef to stir the pot, and leaven with a sprinkle of unassuming, modern-eclectic design.
Though summer nights elsewhere might have you craving a tall, frosty Tom Collins, the truth is that even the warmest San Francisco days dissolve into cool evenings. What's a bar manager to do? For Danny Louie and Ethan Terry of Alembic on Haight Street in San Francisco, the answer is to craft seasonal drinks—"but not too seasonal," says Louie. You'll see ripe strawberries, but not in a highball. There's a tart tequila drink, but it has added complexity from Oregon-made coffee liqueur, Mexican Fernet, and Spanish brandy.
"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," says says Saul Ranella, head bartender of the newly opened craft cocktail and beer bar Battery Harris in Williamsburg.
Drinks at the recently opened West Village restaurant are grouped not by style or ingredient but by texture, falling under one of four categories: Linen, Silk, Velvet, and Leather. Raphael Reyes, formerly of 1534 and the Experimental Cocktail Club, is head bartender, though he is quick to note that the list is very much a collaborative effort with his team, which includes veterans from Pegu Club and Pouring Ribbons.
With 60 to 70 whiskies behind the bar, bar manager Jack Caminos wants people to explore the complex array of flavors that whiskey can offer.
Eben Freeman gained acclaim as a cocktail man at wd-50 and later at Tailor, his work regarded as innovative and boundary-pushing. He's now the director of bar operations for Michael White's restaurant empire, the Altamarea group. And in that role, he's the man behind the cocktail menu at Costata, which opened last week.