“The Spiritual America” at Pearl and Ash
Dishes like Boeuf Bourguignon and Brussels Sprouts don’t really have a place on lightened-up, springtime menus. And neither do heady, malty spirits, like Port or Brandy, or comfort cocktails, like Rum Punch or a Tom & Jerry. That’s why bars and restaurants are making sure their cocktails are every bit as seasonal as the food they accompany, from the sugar snap pea-topped “Green Giant” at Clover Club in Brooklyn to the blood orange and rhubarb-accented “Spiritual America” at Nolita’s Pearl and Ash. So put down your wintry Manhattan and try one of these warm-weather libations this spring!
Alder’s St. Marks the Spot
Known for avant-garde dishes like Fried Mayonnaise, Meat Glue Pasta, and “Cyber Eggs” (a hardened coconut milk egg white with a carrot juice yolk), chef Wylie Dufresne is no less cutting-edge when it comes to cocktails. At his new East Village restaurant, Alder, you’ll find a number of esoteric spring ingredients dotting the drinks list, like zereshk berry, grape must, and sea buckthorn, a foraged shrub that produces acidic berries. It’s showcased in “St. Marks the Spot,” along with freshly squeezed carrot juice and Aquavit, and pairs perfectly with equally quirky items from the dinner menu, like potato chips made from Martin’s rolls, Caesar Nigiri Sushi, and Kumquats stuffed with Marguez Sausage and Parsnip-Black Sesame.
Clover Club’s Green Giant
Flatiron Lounge’s incomparable Julie Reiner is also the brains behind this swinging Smith Street bar, so don’t expect a half-hearted hodgepodge of watered down cocktails. The 40-strong list includes all manner of Sours and Daisies, Collins and Fizzes, Punches and Royales. There’s even a special “Rites of Spring” section for the season, featuring garden-fresh (but not too sweet) cocktails. There’s “The Machinist”, with tequila, sherry, lemon juice and celery shrub, and “Kiwi’s Big Adventure,” featuring kiwi-infused rum, lime juice and tiki bitters. But our favorite by far is the “Green Giant,” made with Old Tom’s Gin, tarragon, dry vermouth, and a vibrant muddle of sugar snap peas.
Employees Only’s Fraise Sauvage
This Art Deco-styled, West Village speakeasy specializes in jaunty, Prohibition-era cocktails. Order your Cognac and Chai-infused “Mata Hari” from a handlebar-mustachioed mixologist, or maybe a “Ginger Smash,” made with Maraschino Liqueur, fresh Pineapple and Cana Brava Rum. And be sure to try the “Fraise Sauvage,” a seasonal spin on the classic “French 75.” It’s an easy-drinking blend of Fords Gin, Wild Strawberries and Tahitian Vanilla, finished with EO Prosecco di Conegliano Brut.
Chef Brad Farmerie’s menu of “grilled meats and aquatic delights” is a definite draw at this chic, AvroKO designed restaurant on the Bowery. But mixologist Naren Young has designed an equally formidable drinks program, which includes housemade whiskey and handcrafted, bottled cocktails, that can be pre-ordered, marked with your name and ready to consume upon arrival. This spring, it’s certainly worth waiting a minute or two for Young to shake up a fresh, vibrant glass of the sprightly “Celery Gimlet,” made with Spring 44 gin, Green Chartreuse, St. Germain, lime, celery, and verjus.Read More
Hospoda’s Strong Cucumber Martini
If they weren’t quite so heavy-handed with the vodka (not really a bad thing), we could imagine lounging at a spa with Hospoda’s smooth-tasting “Strong Cucumber Martini,” made with a puree of fresh cucumber and mint. And the cocktail list isn’t the only thing to undergo a spring cleaning at this modern, Central European restaurant. Chef Oldrich Sahajdak has replaced Goulash and Schnitzel with dishes, like Jumbo Asparagus with a 7-Minute Egg and Morel Panna Cotta, as well as Arctic Char with Fiddlehead Ferns, Pomegranate, and Golden Beet Vinaigrette.
All you need on a beautiful spring day in the city is a group of friends, an assortment of Spanish tapas like Croquetas, Papas Bravas and Pan con Tomate, and a pitcher of “Cherry Lime Cava Sangria.” Originally created to celebrate the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C., this fruity punch is currently on offer at Boqueria’s flagship spot in the Flatiron District. Cherries are soaked for 24 hours in a mixture of raw sugar, simple syrup, vodka, lime juice, Paxtaran and toasted vanilla beans, then combined with a half bottle of sparkling Cava.Read More
Fletcher’s Widow’s Julep
Besides horseracing and big hats, what epitomizes the Kentucky Derby better than Mint Juleps? Not that you need to wait until May to get your hands on one. Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue makes a mean “Widow’s Julep,” an icy blend of Widow Jane Bourbon from Red Hook, housemade mint syrup and fresh mint, served in oversized mason jars. And really, what could be better on a warm spring day than a refreshing Julep and a tray piled high with ‘cue, the likes of Brisket, succulent Burnt Ends, Char Siu Pork Steak, and St. Louis-style Ribs?
Pearl and Ash’s Spiritual America
The kitchen at this new, small plates spot is run by Richard Kuo, an alum of wd-50 and former chef and owner of the Nordic pop-up, Frej. But the fare here isn’t quite as fussy as Kuo’s resume would have you believe… think mostly Asian-accented dishes, like tea-cured Salmon with Seaweed, Veal Cheek with Forbidden Rice and Daikon, and Long Beans with Chili and Uni. Since the restaurant only has a beer and wine license at the moment, mixologist Eben Klemm came up with a collection of interesting beer and wine-focused cocktails to complement the food. One of our favorite finds this season is “The Spiritual America,” a blend of blood orange juice, lime juice, Lillet rosé, dry vermouth, and rhubarb bitters.