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.
"You're not going to come here and find the newest jazz bar on the Upper West Side—any hard core jazz enthusiast might be disappointed," says Roger Clark, general manager of the recently opened uptown restaurant, The Ellington.
That's not to say that there isn't still a "subtle tribute" to pioneering musician and onetime neighborhood resident, Duke Ellington. For example, a list of cocktails designed by New York Distilling Company's Allen Katz that are all named after the Duke's tunes.
The Ellington is the latest project from Glenda Sansone and Andrew Breslin, whose other ventures (Greenwich Village's Slane and The Red Lion) introduced them to Katz, also the director of mixology and spirits education for Southern Wine & Spirits of New York. "Katz was invaluable," says Clark, "he put together a really good list of classic cocktails with a twist—there's something for all different types of drinkers. When the list was first created we didn't know what the customers here would want, so it will be interesting to see what people gravitate towards and then expand the list with that in mind."
So far, folks appear to be gravitating towards bourbon, as the Knob Creek, St. Germain, and Fuji apple juice-based sipper, A Slow Ride on the A Train, has been most popular. Naturally, gin from Katz's New York Distilling Company makes a couple cameos on the list as well. His Perry's Tot Navy Strength Gin stars in both the gimlet variation and a contemporary riff on a Screwdriver.