Tag Archives: classic

The New Black: NOIR NYC exudes a 1930s supper club vibe with modern touches

28 Jul

NOIR, the upscale restaurant and nightclub that opened in the old Nikki Beach space in June, hearkens back to its early 20th-century origins, first as an opera house and later as a speakeasy. The design attempts to recreate the old-school glamour of Sinatra’s hey day with tile flooring, marble staircase, dark wood banisters and leather banquettes. The elegant dining room takes up the first floor, while the glitzy lounge area comprises the second story.

The bar program features $220-to-$300 punch bowls that contain 20 servings and a premium spirits cart offering top-shelf Cognac and whiskies, including Scotch, which can be pour over a signature Macallan ice sphere.

The drinks menu highlights handcrafted cocktails ($15) developed by award-winning mixologist and beverage director Adam DelGiudice, who previously worked at the Florida Room in Miami’s South Beach. The list features twists on classics and original concoctions, including the Manhattan En Noir, made with rye whiskey, vermouth, Port, Grand Marnier and bitters, and the Five Point Sour, mixing Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, applejack, lemon juice and a float of red wine. NOIR also offers an extensive wine list.

I started with the Garden Variety, which blends vodka, muddled strawberries and basil, balsamic vinegar, lime juice and white pepper. The cocktail perfectly balances the fresh fruitiness of the strawberries with the acidic tang of the lime juice and vinegar. Plus, the basil and pepper exude herbal and spicy aromas.

I also tried the sweet and floral Lavender Aviation, made with gin, maraschino liqueur, lemon juice and house-made lavender syrup, as well as the tart and refreshing Ghost of Mary Pickford, comprising light rum, lime and pineapple juices, and house-made grenadine.

The cuisine—from Michelin-starred chef Jean-Yves Schillinger—combines American and French elements. Items include salmon and arugula flatbread pizza, Kobe beef sliders, red snapper with Asian sauce, and salmon, tuna and steak tartares, the last of which is topped with raw quail yolk.

NOIR is definitely the place to take a date, meet colleagues for drinks or host an extravagant birthday party in Midtown. Whatever the occasion, it’s sure to impress.

© 2012 Amber Drea and New York Drinkie. Unauthorized use or duplication of images and text without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts may be quoted, provided that clear credit is given to Amber Drea and New York Drinkie with links directing to the original content.

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Boston Drinkie: Two Beantown establishments offer top-notch cocktails in classy settings

26 Aug

While Boston isn’t the first place that comes to mind when discussing cutting-edge cocktails, the New England city certainly has its fair share of venues that deliver delicious drinks. Last weekend, I visited some friends there and took the opportunity to check out the cocktail scene on Saturday night. We started the evening at Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks, a Kenmore Square mainstay that serves an array of upscale meat and seafood dishes and has extensive cocktail and wine lists. At the bar, I tried the Colony Cocktail ($10), a Martini-style concoction made with Plymouth gin, maraschino liqueur and fresh grapefruit juice. It was sufficiently strong yet pleasantly refreshing — the perfect aperitif.

Eastern Standard’s cocktail menu features a variety of libations in such categories as Standards, Heritage, Infusion and Tikisms, many of which fall into the $10-to-$12 price range. The restaurant also offers “Table Sized” pitchers ($25 to $70) and a Vic’s 1940s Scorpion Bowl ($22 to $65) that serve two or more people. We ordered a bottle of 2009 Pascal Granger “Le Bouteau” Beajolais ($30) to pair with our meal of grilled flat iron steak, pan-seared foie gras, roasted bone marrow, jumbo prawns and halibut ceviche. The red wine was earthy and complex with a spicy zing.

After dinner, we headed to the Waterfront and attempted to gain entry at Drink, a sleek nightspot from the Barbara Lynch Gruppo that serves bespoke cocktails. As expected, the line to the lower-level drinks den filled the stairwell and almost spilled out the door at 11 p.m. on a Saturday night. The fact that there were six of us didn’t help. Fortunately, the extremely accommodating hostess allowed me to put our name in and grab a round at Lucky’s across the street, rather than stand on the steps for 45 minutes. The rambunctious college bar was crowded with baseball cap-wearing fraternity types, but I enjoyed an Absolut Wild Tea and ginger ale — my go-to drink at more mainstream establishments — as my friends and I engaged in loud conversation.

Once back in line at Drink, we only had to wait another 15 minutes or so before we were finally seated at one of the three U-shaped bars. The place has a minimal design with modern lighting fixtures, exposed brick walls, an industrial ceiling and street-level windows.

Our bartender, Brin, asked us what we’d like to drink, and while a letter board listed a few cocktails, we decided to go for the whole bespoke experience. I requested a classic-style drink with dark rum and bitters. The result was a lemony, slightly sweet concoction served up in a coupe glass.

Josie asked for something “minty and milkshaky,” and that’s exactly what she got. We deduced that it was probably a Grasshopper, which comprises cream, green crème de menthe and white crème de cacao. The drink tasted just like melted mint chocolate chip ice cream and looked like it too.

Adam wanted a citrusy vodka cocktail, but failed to mention that he doesn’t like gin. Bartenders are notorious for tricking vodka drinkers into trying gin, and true to form, Brin served him a combination of gin and lemon juice. It actually worked — Adam said he didn’t mind the taste. So maybe he’s not a full on convert yet, but at least he drank the cocktail. Meanwhile, Genie ordered a Pimm’s Cup and received a beautiful work of art featuring layers of sliced cucumber like a Pimm’s parfait.

For my second cocktail, I asked for something rum-based, but stronger than my previous drink. Brin obliged with a mix of rum, whiskey, lemon juice and simple syrup, though it definitely had more of the first two ingredients and less of the latter two. Let’s just say I was done for the night after that.

All the cocktails cost $11.50 — a steal for the amount a craftsmanship that goes into them. And our bartender was a hard worker. At one point, she carried out the largest cube of ice I’d ever seen.

Between drinks, Brin procured a dangerous-looking tool and sawed away at the solid surface. I’m assuming she made smaller ice cubes out of the gigantic one, but we didn’t stick around long enough to find out. There’s always next time!

© Amber Drea and New York Drinkie, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of images and text without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts may be used, provided that clear credit is given to Amber Drea and New York Drinkie with links directing to the original content.

Hidden History: The Rum House brings class from the past to Times Square

18 Apr

I rarely find myself trekking to Times Square for anything other than to fight the Christmas crowds at Toys R Us. However, my husband and I decided to head uptown to The Rum House at the Hotel Edison for a couple drinks after a dinner of shellfish and Champagne at The John Dory in Flatiron. Newly reopened by the gentlemen behind Ward III in Tribeca—a sultry den of bespoke cocktails that are created according to the customer’s tastes—the revamped lounge puts a strong emphasis on the spirit distilled from molasses or sugarcane.

The cocktail menu is divided into three sections: “Rum,” “Classics” and “House Originals.” The first category includes rum-based beverages like the Mojito and the Rum Old Fashioned. I started off with a refreshing drink called the Tortuga, which mixes Pampero aged rum, citrus, fresh ginger and cinnamon ($12), garnished with candied ginger.

My husband’s usual Manhattan fell under the “Classics” heading, which also lists standards like a traditional Bourbon Old Fashioned and a French 75/76 made with gin or vodka. The Rum House’s take on the Manhattan uses spicy Templeton rye whiskey ($14) for an extra kick.

The “House Originals” features more adventurous libations with names that evoke famous figures from old Hollywood and early-20th century artists. The Barrymore comprises Bruichladdich Scotch, Ramazzotti amaro and Yellow Chartreuse ($15), and the Diego Rivera combines Corazón Tequila, Meletti amaro, Bonal Gentiane-Quina aperitif, citrus and egg white ($11). For my second drink, I instead opted for one of my favorites—the Dark & Stormy—from the “Rum” section. The rich, gingery concoction offered an effervescent zing.

On a Saturday evening between 7 and 8 p.m., The Rum House was surprisingly quiet. There were a few other patrons, who seemed to be out-of-towners staying at the Hotel Edison. The vintage décor, including an upright piano, leather banquettes and a wagon wheel chandelier, enhanced the vintage vibe, and the quality of the drinks far outweighed the relatively low prices—especially for a tourist trap like Time Square. It’s a perfect pocket of solace surrounded by chaos, and you’d be hard-pressed to find better drinks in even the hippest New York City neighborhood.

© Amber Drea and New York Drinkie, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of images and text without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts may be used, provided that clear credit is given to Amber Drea and New York Drinkie with links directing to the original content.