Five Summer Cocktails From Five of Gotham’s Most Exalted Drinks Alchemists
Long before the pandemic ground the hospitality business to a complete halt, the subject of New York nightlife was already a hotly debated one. Of course, we know, it’s never going to return to the wild – and sometimes unlawful – abandon of the days of the Limelight, or even Misshapes. But just what might it look like as it struggles out of these still ongoing coronavirus conditions? Will there really be another Roaring ’20s? (Probably not, since it’s hard to work up a roar when you’re staring at your phone all night.)
But rather than just do more random speculating, we turned to five of the top NYC impresarios of the night, to get their hard-earned point of view on just what we can expect as COVID gives way to some sense of our previous normalcy, and to let us know just what they’ll be mixing in a glass to be an essential part of it. If you somehow managed to miss it, Jeff Bell of PDT, Jonny Swet of JIMMY, Rob Krueger of The Loyal, Sother Teague of Amor y Amargo and Etérea, and Nico de Soto of Mace have led and irreparably influenced New York’s cocktail revolution/zeitgeist for a combined number of years that we admit we can’t even count – so they would surely know as well or better than anyone what the immediate nocturnal future looks like.
Each generously offered to let us in on the secrets behind one of their inimitable signature cocktail recipes, so that we might all enjoy a bit of their alchemical magic at home, while we slowly work our way back to our old non-stop nightlife itinerary. We implore everyone, however, to enthusiastically patronize their establishments, as they have missed seeing you for more than a year now and, we can assure, are very much eager to have you back.
We’ll see you there, of course.
Sother Teague, Amor y Amargo and Etérea
Author of I’m Just Here For the Drinks, Sother Teague is a true downtown (East Village, specifically) mixology legend. He emerged from the lockdowns by launching Reserve by Amor y Amargo, a groundbreaking, bitters-based prix-fixe experience, and opening Etérea, a cool new tequila/mezcal concept bar – where his Yellow Pineapple cocktail (a sort of hipped up piña colada) is already a hit.
“New York has seen more than its share of hardships brought on by the crisis of the past 17+ months, and as a city we’ve largely handled it with the kind of charm and grace that’s only found here. Now that we can sense the end of the bulk of it, we’re beginning to optimistically seek out social activities again, and no one enjoys nightlife like The City That Never Sleeps. Bars are beginning to bustle, and new concepts and service models are popping up everywhere. I predict more experiential environments for guests, with deep dives into categories, as well as immersive environments to attract guests by offering more value than just what’s on offer on the menu. I’m looking forward to seeing how far venues are willing to go.”
Yellow Pineapple (pictured top)
.75 Coconut milk (coco Lopez)
1.5 oz pineapple juice
.5 oz lime juice
1 oz chartreuse jaune
1 oz Reposado tequila
Toasted coconut flakes &
Pineapple chunk garnish
Shake liquids with just a few pieces of pebble ice until they melt to aerate and chill. Pour into a snifter or similar and pile high with pebble ice. Garnish with toasted coconut and fresh pineapple and a sustainable straw.
Jeff Bell, PDT
One of Gotham’s true pioneers of contemporary cocktail culture, the James Beard Award winning PDT is a moodily lit, hip-but-romantic space accessed via a phone booth on St. Mark’s Place – and Jeff Bell has been its star mixologist since 2010.
“With New York City rebounding, we are very excited to host PDT Tropicale. Serving tropical-inspired cocktails in an outdoor setting is as far from the traditional PDT as you can get, but it has been exciting for us to spread our creative wings with this unique activation. It has been a huge success as our guests enjoy luxuriating in our little outdoor oasis in the East Village. Since it’s difficult to travel to Brazil right now, the PDT Tropicale’s Caipirinha, which is accented by a touch of passion fruit and Madagascan vanilla, will practically transport you to there.”
PDT Tropicale’s Caipirinha
1.5 oz. Leblon Cachaca
.75 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
.75 oz. Lime Cordial***
.5 oz. Passion Fruit Purée
Two dashes Madagascar Vanilla Extract
Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Johnny Swet, JIMMY
One of New York’s most revered Master Mixologists, Johnny Swet once lorded over the totally mad scene at B-Bar. But amongst many and sundry other ventures, has has since its 2010 opening been a partner at the sexy-cool JIMMY rooftop bar, atop the ModernHaus SoHo hotel – with easily the best views in the city.
“I see nightlife bouncing back for sure. They are saying ‘It’s gonna be a hot vax summer’ and I completely agree. People are ready to socialize and have fun again, I can already see it at JIMMY, which is now a downtown institution with a loyal following. There is a real feeling of coming back together, a reunion of sorts, seeing old friends in person and frankly celebrating the return to normalcy that we have all been hungering for. JIMMY is tailor-made for this kind of casual revelry that is happily a sign of our times.”
2 oz Bulleit Rye Whiskey
.5oz Simple Syrup
4 dash Peychaud’s Bitters
Mixing glass-ice/stir-strain highball/cubed ice/stir in tonic Garnish with lemon wedge
Pack with lots of ice
“At JIMMY this summer, I think we have an interesting spin on the classic Sazerac, a version called the Sazerac Tonic. We take the Sazerac and basically add Fever-Tree Tonic. It is a simple twist, but super-refreshing for summer, especially poolside.
It has all the classic flavorful ingredients: rye (Bulleit), absinthe (Combier Blanchette), Peychaud’s Bitters and simple syrup. To make it, we add all the ingredients in a tall glass, fill it with ice, stir in the tonic to make it refreshing and garnish it with a long lemon twist. Our guests really enjoy this non-fruity, very adult cocktail.”
Rob Krueger, The Loyal
Having managed Employees Only, and founded Macao Trading Co and Extra Fancy, Rob Krueger was surely the perfect choice to run the sophisticated cocktail program at The Loyal, the newest culinary venture from Michelin-starred chef John Fraser. His Verjus Signaling creation is one of the absolute must epicurean indulgences this summer.
0.75 oz Perry’s Tot Gin
0.75 oz Rockey’s Liqueur
0.75 oz Massenez Crème de Pomme Verte
0.75 oz White Verjus
Fever-Tree Indian Tonic
Sliced grapes for garnish
Build in a highball glass with ice. Top with tonic and add sliced grapes for garnish.
“The Verjus Signaling is a Gin & Tonic augmented with tart white verjus, the tropical fruit and tea flavors of Rockey’s Liqueur, and green apple. This long drink provides refreshment and relief from the sweltering heat of the city. It celebrates the transition from day life to nightlife, when the broiling sun starts to dip behind building tops and a mild breeze picks up briefly. It is when you offload your laptop satchel and get off your tired feet for a drink with friends, and working to live can pause for the enjoyment of life to begin. Fizzy and tall, don’t be afraid to gulp a third of it, because there’s plenty in reserve.”
Nico de Soto, Mace
Cool but unassuming, Mace – a World’s 50 Best Bars winner – has become a genuine destination for cocktail aficionados, who now flock to its small but stylish new space on West 8th Street. Nico de Soto came here from Paris, but is well known as the “nomadic” bartender, regularly taking his drinks wizardry around the world. His Wasabi + Cilantro creation is a provocative update of the Miami Vice, constructed of two distinct layers of “slushie.”
“We have seen New York City’s nightlife bouncing back resoundingly. One of the silver linings of the pandemic has been outdoor seating, which we have been able to offer for the very first time in Mace’s history. It is proving to be enormously popular with our guests, who enjoy an al fresco experience. Moreover, our new location in the heart of Greenwich Village gets a ton of foot traffic, and the outdoor seating has driven a lot of curiosity and interest of passersby.”
Wasabi + Cilantro
Strawberry Daiquiri – Wasabi-infused rum, strawberries, angelica root, vanilla and lime
Piña Colada – Bacon-washed rum, pineapple, coconut, plantain, lime and cilantro
WASABI SPEC BY WEIGHT
5000 Wasabi Soy Washed Rum 8000 Strawberry Puree
2500 Lactic Vanilla Syrup
5000 Angelica Tea Water 0.01% Gum Arabic
500g of simple syrup 2.5g lactic acid powder .25 oz vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean
Sous vide at 60C for 1 hour
750g Plantation 3 Star
Sous Vide @ 52.5c for 2hr Then milk wash with soy milk
Angelica Tea Water
13g per 500ml steep for 5 min then fine strain
CILANTRO SPEC BY WEIGHT
4500 Bacon Rum
6000 Plantain Coco Cream 6000 Pineapple
2250 Cilantro Tea
0.01% xantham gum
Bacon Fat, 45g/750ml bottle – 1h infusion sous vide at 52.5
3h leave it, freeze overnight
3:1 coco Lopez to coco milk
Peel, split down the middle, vacuum seal and sous vide 3-4 hours at 89C to hydrolyze the resistant starches, cool, then blend with 3.5% a-amylase + 2.95% pectinase, hold at 37°C for 4 hrs. minimum (8 is best)
Plantain Coconut Cream
2:1 Coco Cream to Plantain, blend on highest setting and pass through chinois
Boil a pot of water. Blanch 50g cilantro for 15 seconds, then immediately place in ice bath for 1 minute. VitaMix with 1 L water on highest setting for 1-2 minutes
Fine strain, weigh, and add 0.1% sodium metabisulfite