It shouldn’t come as a surprise that there’s good food to be found at Betony. After all, executive chef Bryce Shuman worked at one of the city’s preeminent fine dining institutions, Eleven Madison Park, for over five years. And like his EMP mentor, Daniel Humm, he doesn’t allow any of the details to escape his purview, from the homemade breadbasket (cheesy Frico & needle-thin Breadsticks, followed by piping hot Caraway Rolls with salted butter) to the perfectly curated cocktail list.
It helps that his partner Eamon Rockey (also from EMP, Aska and Atera) is on hand to oversee Betony’s drinks program. There are currently twelve, perfectly summery libations on offer, each a take on a seasonal classic. There’s a Palma Fizz, a Pisco Sour, a Kaffir Lime Mojito, a Floridita Daiquiri, and even a butt-kicking Orange Julep, the pretty presentation belying its formidable alcohol content (buoyed by a generous jigger of rye whiskey). But best of the bunch is the Desert Shandy, based on that easy-drinking beer and lemonade combination that’s a bit like a spiked Arnold Palmer. But in Eamon Rockey’s hands, the drink is a whole lot more complex — not to mention a good deal boozier.
It actually hits the nostrils before it touches your lips, owing to a mist of Rosemary Tincture sprayed on top right before serving. You’ll sip the contents through a cold metal straw, and the components hit you in waves… fruity, musky Apricot Liqueur, almond and rosewater-scented Orgeat Syrup, and a bracing Sherry Vinegar (all made in-house, fused together by a citrusy and spicy Greenport Harbor Ale.
And while the Shandy is actually inspired by Shuman’s Roasted Apricot and Almond dessert, it more than stands up to more boldly flavored bar bites, like Roasted Bone Marrow with Wax Beans and Savory, excellent Fried Pickled Peppers with Cucumber Yogurt, and the “Tuna Melt,” made with barely seared slabs of belly swaddling Fontina-crusted Brioche. In fact, it’s so eminently drinkable (glance around the lounge and you’ll notice it’s the most popular cocktail by far), you might just want to order another one to see you through dinner, too.