"People talk about how cocktails don't pair well with food," says Aaron Polsky, the man behind the menu at West Village Japanese restaurant Neta. "And sure, maybe cocktails as we know them don't pair with food. But what if there were a paradigm shift?" I've seen other savory cocktails that, say, use vegetable juices, or actually incorporate salt. But Polsky's push much farther into the territory. When was the last time you had a cocktail that made use of sautéed maitake mushrooms; or infused a spirit with bonito flakes? Umami bombs are all over the place. Come take a look at Polsky's favorite drinks on the menu (and a few soon to come).
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At Mayahuel and Cienfuegos, Ravi DeRossi enshrined tequila and rum, respectively, building bar programs to showcase the best of each spirit. Now it's gin's turn, and together with bar managers Tom Chadwick and Frank Cisneros, he's gone and tossed in a twist: this isn't just a juniper joint, it's a full-on challenge to a culture he helped create.
After igniting a speakeasy craze with Milk & Honey, then fanning its flames with Little Branch, Sasha Petraske is sending his signature Prohibition-era cocktails and code of conduct into brave new territory: Murray Hill.
"First and foremost, we have a focus on seasonality, not only in terms of ingredients but also in the general feel of each drink," says Gotham Bar and Grill's Rick Pitcher, who says he often starts his cocktails with flavor combinations that happen in the kitchen. For example, his Garden Party cocktail began with the pairing of fresh, vivid carrot juice and ginger, and then Pitcher began to look at possible spirits for the drink before settling on Double Cross Vodka from Slovakia.
When he opened The Beagle in New York's East Village last May, owner Matt Piacentini was definitely not interested in serving brunch. "At first, I was adamant that I didn't want to do daytime stuff—I really wanted to focus on the cocktails," he said. "But seeing the clientele, I started to think, 'I bet these people would drink just as many cocktails at brunch.'"
It's not often you see a cocktail that uses fresh kale juice—in fact, I'm not sure I've seen it ever, but a bright and gingery kale cocktail is right at home on Jason Mendenhall's constantly-changing cocktail menu at The Wayland, which opened one month ago on Avenue C in New York's East Village.
Since we were already conveniently parked at Parm for their nightly specials, it was only right to get acquainted with the cocktail list. Order one from a red swivel stool at the bar or with dinner ($12 each drink). All of them are playful yet thoughtfully constructed, and oftentimes boozier than they taste.
I'm always excited to find a truly nerdy cocktail destination that manages to share esoteric drinks without any pretension. Amor Y Amargo, the latest addition to the Cienfuegos/El Cobre complex on the corner of 6th Street and Avenue A in the East Village, is a prime example.
I'd happily drop $6/pint to while away an early spring evening on Flatbush Farm's spacious patio. But I'd rather pay $4/pint, of course.
There are quite a few bars in New York that offer complimentary bar snacks at certain hours. But when I've had a few glasses of wine, I don't want a few dainty olives or crackers; I want warm, substantial polenta cakes or pizza sliced into tiny slivers, perfect for sharing and nibbling. That's what you get at Emporio on Mott Street in Soho, where between 5:00 and 6:30pm, snacks are laid out on the bar aperitivo-style for the taking.
Nothing says "happy hour" like a well-made five-dollar margarita. Ofrenda in the West Village is a great place just before dinnertime, with light streaming in through the full-length windows or, on warmer days, out on the few sidewalk tables.
New York's Kenny Shopsin is well-known for his mac 'n cheese pancakes, improbable but terribly delicious creations in which cheese and pasta are suspended in pancake batter.
Ever wonder who decides what beers go on the menu at your favorite restaurant or watering hole? We did too, and then we met David Flaherty and found out all about it. (We also found out about his first time...drinking craft beer, that is.)
Kelly Taylor makes interesting, usual beers in Brooklyn, including Flemish-style sours, a beer brewed with Valrhona chocolate nibs and orange peel, and a collaboration with Blue Hill at Stone Barn that once included farm-fresh roasted beets. Nice guy that he is, Kelly joined me for a beer and the following interview.