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Paul Gauguin's desire to find ecstasy in the tropics, listening to "the soft murmuring music of the movements of my heart in amorous harmony with the mysterious beings around me," led the French artist to Tahiti and syphilis. Gauguin found his final tonic in morphine; bartender James Lombardino of New York's 1534 offers a gentler remedy: mango puree, gin, allspice liqueur, and lemon juice.
When it comes to gin, Lombardino is equal parts user and pusher. Alongside tequila, gin is his poison of choice ("It's the original flavored vodka," he declares). He fancies himself a juniper matchmaker of sorts: "I can turn anybody on to gin...There's always one out there for you."
After honing in on mango for Gauguin's Cure, which is part of the bar's French-colonial themed menu's Polynesia section, Lombardino decided to buck the usual tropical suspects (rum, tequila or pisco) in search for mango's juniper match. "Beefeater was too sharp for this; the juniper became the drink's prominent note."
Lombardino eventually settled on Bombay East, which is similar to Bombay Sapphire, but with two added botanicals: Thai lemongrass and Vietnamese black peppercorn. "It's very light, with more floral and citrus notes than you'll find in a London dry style."
Like artfully applied base makeup, two ounces of gin create a solid foundation that's subtle but essential; the drink would seem spotty and flat without it. Mango and gin find another unlikely companion in allspice liqueur. "The allspice really plays up the gin's botanicals," notes Lombardino.
The cocktail conjures up images of both palm trees and crunching leaves. Mango puree—pleasantly thick and a little creamy—takes center stage, with warm allspice surfacing after a few seconds.
With the pop of a purple gomphrena bloom atop the vibrant yellow drink, Gauguin's Cure is so darn pretty that you almost don't want to sip it. But not as much as you do want to.
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