Note: First Looks give previews of new drinks and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots and interviews with bars and restaurants, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations. Want to see the food at Aska? Check out our post here.
No one could ever accuse Eamon Rockey, general manager and partner in Williamsburg's Aska, of not being a patient man. Of the eight signature cocktails he's created for the just-opened modern Scandinavian concept, not one is without an ingredient that requires some sort of time-consuming infusion, fermentation, or extraction process.
There's the US Export, for example, a multi-whiskey concoction infused with dehydrated pear and quince chips. Or the Suburbanite, a fizzy play on the Cosmopolitan which calls for a housemade lime oleo saccharum that takes a month to make (and yields very little, at that). "It's all about investment," Rockey remarks.
Once each ingredient has been concocted, though, the drinks are easy to assemble during service. Rockey, an Eleven Madison Park and Atera alum, explains that the compilation of his bar experiences inspired the decision to batch his creations. "At Atera we didn't really have a bar, it was just a paired down list and this idea of bottling and investing time in batching really helped you keep your head above water. But it's not just a matter of being expedient, the way we do it here it's also to the benefit of the cocktails," he explains. He points to The Bond, a dry gin cocktail which is made with a house-made vermouth aromatized with jasmine and roses. "The combination of spirits and botanicals mellows and integrates over time in bottle," he says.
Rockey also emphasizes his belief that food and drinks should tell a story. Take the Next of Kin, for instance, which features a housemade pu-erh kombucha. The cocktail is named for Kinfolk Studios, where the restaurant is located, and references the flavors of a dish he shared with chef Frederik Berselius at a restaurant in Sweden. "We were served a dish with these tiny potatoes that were cooked in fallen leaves that had been dug up from under the snow and the flavor tasted so much like this tea. So I wanted to create a drink that evoked that experience," he explains.
Want a peek at all 8 of the cocktails on Aska's menu? Check out the slideshow for a look.