CJ Arlotta

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Whalebone: New Craft Cocktail Washes Ashore at Sandbar in Cold Spring Harbor

The Whalebone was first mixed at Sandbar in Cold Spring Harbor.

Oftentimes, mixologists are told to do the following: “Make me something.”

Without a starting place, there are so many ways to go, so when the slightest direction is given, a mixologist can concoct a drink to a customer’s liking — or create one for the masses. And sometimes, a star is born, as was the case with a drink dubbed the Whalebone.

“While behind the bar at the newly opened Sandbar in Cold Spring Harbor, I was handed a bottle of Crème de Pamplemousse and tasked with creating a special cocktail for a few friends who were sitting at the bar,” recalls Dan Leopold, bartender at the upscale restaurant showcasing American cuisine dishes from both land and sea — all of which are created by Executive Chef Guy Reuge.

Leopold accepted the challenge, even though he — quite honestly — didn’t see it as one.

“I enjoy mixing different flavors together, so when given a new liqueur I was excited to blend it and see what concoction I could come up with,” Leopold says.

“I believe that mixing cocktails is an art,” he adds. “My art is created by mixing flavors together to create something delicious. My years of experience allow me an instinct on the best ways to showcase a new liqueur or match certain flavors together.”

The cocktail includes Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Crème de Pamplemousse, fresh lemon and lime juices, blood orange purée, simple syrup and club soda.

“The concoction I came up with was an immediate hit with everyone, who believed that it was made with actual grapefruit; however, it is the Crème de Pamplemousse that gives it the citrus and refreshing flavor,” he says. “Thus, the was born.”

To make Whalebone, simply, pour the vodka, simple syrup, Crème de Pamplemousse, lemon and lime juices, blood orange purée, and club soda into a shaker. Shake the ingredients before serving the cocktail over ice.

“It’s a citrus cocktail, more tart than sweet,” he says. “It’s very refreshing and the perfect warm weather cocktail.”

With beach season on the horizon, just such a nautical-themed drink is in order.

Sandbar is located at 55 Main St., Cold Spring Harbor. It can be reached at 631-498-6188, lessings.com

 

The Bruno: Seven Quarts Tavern’s Meal of A Bloody Mary

Lauren Hill, owner of Seven Quarts Tavern, mixes up The Bruno, her bar's take on a Bloody Mary.

With its resurgence in popularity, the Bloody Mary has been getting makeovers from numerous bars across the country.

In Northport, Seven Quarts Tavern, which boasts golds and rustic reds throughout the interior, offers tavern goers a variety of craft beers on tap and a dinner menu packed with burgers, salads and seafood dishes. It’s kicked things up a notch with its own unique take on the classic cocktail known for being the ideal hangover remedy for so many imbibers.

“This is a play on one of my buddies’ Bloody Marys,” says Lauren Hill, who bought the cozy gastropub with Clark Ridge in the fall of 2018. “He brings out a delicious batch for the [yacht] club members who stay out on the water overnight.”

Called The Bruno, Seven Quarts Tavern’s twist on the cocktail is made with traditional Bloody Mary ingredients, including tomato juice, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, and freshly squeezed lime and lemon juices. The major variations to the cocktail are added on at the end, and for imbibers with big appetites, the extras are filling, additional meals on top of what’s already included in the standard Bloody Mary.

“We include fresh homemade pickled asparagus along with a piece of blackened Cajun shrimp and a burger slider on a pretzel bun — courtesy of our chef, Justin Birtola,” Hill says. “You will never be disappointed from what this guy sends out of the kitchen. My partner and I adore him and everything about his M.O.”

Expect to see The Bruno on Seven Quarts Tavern’s brunch menu on Sundays. If the cocktail performs well, the owners may add it it to the tavern’s standard cocktail menu.

“It is a filling breakfast / hangover neutralizer that leaves you feeling great and prepared for the day ahead,” Hill says.

Seven Quarts Tavern is located at 688 Fort Salonga Rd. in Northport. It can be reached at 631-757-2000.

Drinking To Remember With Lola’s Butter Me Up

One of the reasons many people enjoy winter cocktails is that the flavors can bring back warm and cozy memories from childhood.

With its hints of apple cider, warm spices, and a buttery, slightly savory finish, Butter Me Up, a craft cocktail devised by Lola, a Mediterranean restaurant on Middle Neck Road in Great Neck, does just that.

“Coming from a home where baking during the holiday season was an everyday affair, I wanted something that was reminiscent of the butter cookies browning in the oven, and warm spices of mulled cider and apple pies,” says Lenny Messina, executive chef at Lola.

It isn’t unusual for Messina to feel a bit of nostalgia when crafting a new cocktail menu for Lola. Typically, when developing a new cocktail, he begins with a primary component, which could be a unique new liquor, a peak season fruit, or a seasonal staple.

“Once we have a primary flavor profile we begin testing ancillary flavors and pairings,” he says, “testing and fine tuning an array of recipes until the cocktail is refined and balanced. Even then, we will continue to make minor edits as the drink progresses on our menu.”

Among Butter Me Up’s core ingredients, one stands out among the rest: butter-washed rum.

“The butter-washed rum adds a savory complexity to the cocktail that we all fell in love with,” Messina says.

Besides the obvious, elements to the butter-washed rum include pumpkin pie spice, star anise, and cinnamon sticks. While the process behind the making of the butter-washed rum takes time, the “result is a rum with subtle flavors of toasted butter,” he says.

To make Butter Me Up, pour the butter-washed rum, amaretto and cider into a shaker tin, add ice and shake. Strain the cocktail into a chilled rocks glass (a cinnamon and sugar rim is optional) after it becomes slightly frothy. Then garnish with a cinnamon stick.

“The Butter Me Up cocktail provides a comforting and familiar presence of apple cider, followed with subtle hints of barrel-aged rum and rounding out with a buttery, nutty and slightly savory finish,” he says.

Lola is located at 113A Middle Neck Rd., Great Neck. It can be reached at 516-466-5666 or restaurantlola.com

 

Maple Bourbon Old Fashioned: Warming Winter Spirits

A bartender places a cherry in the Maple Bourbon Old Fashioned.

Transitioning from fall to winter is a favorite time for many, and the right cocktail, something sweet and smoky, can ease imbibers into the colder months by wrapping drinkers in virtual blankets.

Among classics offering that effect is the old fashioned. But at Grandpa’s Shed, a bar in Stony Brook where antiques, farm tools and framed photographs of grandfathers adorn the walls, mixologists improved on this staple.

“We were trying to find ingredients that would bring winter to you,” says Marios Patatinis, owner of Grandpa’s Shed.

Inspired by smoked cocktails he’d tasted in Europe, Patatinis collaborated with with Deanna Mollica, the bar’s general manager, to incorporate a smoky flavor in what became Grandpa’s Shed’s Maple Bourbon Old Fashioned.

“We wanted to do it a little more robust, so we actually grabbed hold of a torch and a wood plank, and then we went out and did our homework on wood chips and came across Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey Barrel Smoking Chips,” he recalls. “We fell in love with it.”

Prior to mixing the cocktail’s ingredients, the wood chips are set afire on a wood plank before a rocks glass smothers the flame.

“Not only does it take the drink to the next level, it puts on a show because you walk into the bar and right away you smell the smoke, you see the fire on the bar, and people are intrigued already before they even order the drink,” he says.

They use James E. Pepper’s 1776 Straight Bourbon Whiskey for the base since it’s on the sweeter side, with its notes of vanilla, honey, cloves, and chocolate, which fit their preferred flavor profile. And the bourbon’s name harkens back to when some Three Village residents aided General George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring, which gathered intel on British troops.

The duo built on the bourbon’s flavor by adding bitters and maple syrup (the brand is Grandpa’s secret).

“The maple syrup doesn’t mask the bourbon, but in the back of your throat, you get a little bit of that sweetness, almost like a pancake,” Mollica says.

The cocktail is garnished with a Woodford Reserve Bourbon cherry and an orange peel.

“You smell it and are questioning yourself: Am I actually sitting in the pub, and or am I actually outside making s’mores?” Patatinis says.

Grandpa’s Shed is located at 121 Main St. in Stony Brook. It can be reached at grandpasshed.com, 631-675-9263.

Downtown Burger At Five Point Cafe’s New Winter Classic

Come this winter, one of Downtown Burger At Five Point Cafe’s winter classic cocktails is getting a name change.

“A few years back, the former general manager was planning on developing an Irish-themed cocktail menu — [one that would flow better] with the Irish feel and aesthetic of what and who Five Points Cafe is,” says Ruy Alicea, general manager at Downtown Burger At Five Point Cafe in Sayville. “We hold very strong roots in the Irish community, as our owner James Rooney is of Irish descent. He chose the restaurant’s name and its entity to reflect his love, passion and connection to the original five points and Irish community.”

Many of the drinks on the restaurant’s original cocktail menu were “unique and fun,” Alicea says. One of cocktails on that menu was the Irish Kiss, which was popular among cafe guests, but it wasn’t the drink the team today wanted to represent the restaurant.

“We were looking for something that was more of our own signature cocktail, so we played with the recipe by changing juices and mixers,” he says. “We accidentally developed our own take on the Irish Kiss.”

An Irish Kiss calls for Irish whiskey, peach schnapps, ginger juice and orange juice. Combined, the cocktail “leaves you with a sweet, peachy aftertaste,” he says. But would happen if peach were swapped for raspberry?

“We took on the challenge of discovering something new, and we did,” Alicea says. “We called it the Downtown Winter Punch.”

Expected to be on the menu this winter, this twist on the Irish Kiss is made with Irish whiskey, raspberry puree, ginger juice and orange juice. Instead of a sweet, peachy aftertaste, the cocktail has a citrus and raspberry taste, and gives off “great notes from the Irish whiskey,” he says. While the name Downtown Winter Punch won’t be on the menu this coming winter, the same cocktail will be listed — just under another name.

“Over the years, the popularity of this drink has taken off,” Alicea says. “It has a very fall and winter feel, so when it came to this year’s winter cocktail menu, we decided to change the name one last time to the ‘Winter Classic,’ as it’s been with us now for eight years.”

The Manhasset at Publicans: An Oldie But Goodie

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There are infinite ways to tweak traditional cocktails. For whiskey lovers craving a twist to a classic, the Manhasset awaits at Publicans, which adds an extra shot to freshen up the Manhattan.

The Manhasset was created in the 1970s by Steve Schnitzer, the original owner of Publicans on Plandome Road, before it closed in 1999. Edison’s Ale House opened in its place and remained until 2016. Publicans was reborn last year as a modern American tavern — and resumed mixing the Manhasset.

“It tastes like a very smooth Manhattan,” Carter Messman, director of operations at the new Publicans, says of the Manhasset.

Behind the bar today are 20 beers on draft, shelves of liquor and subway tiles. Wood paneling, exposed white brick, and paned windows divide the bar and dining area. Burgers, tavern classics, steaks and wings adorn the menu.

Not all is lost from the original Publicans. The Manhasset is still made with the original recipe. The drink made an appearance in Pulitzer Prize-winning author J.R. Moehringer’s 2006 memoir, The Tender Bar.

Unlike the traditional Manhattan, the Manhasset has an additional component to it: a shot of liquor on the side, designed to take the Manhattan cocktail to the next level.

There are several ingredients to Schnitzer’s version of the Manhattan: Evan Williams Bourbon, Carpano’s Antica Formula Vermouth and Regan’s Orange Bitters.

To make the cocktail, simply add the bitters, bourbon and vermouth to a mixing tin, stir and pour over a large ice cube in a rocks glass. Grab a shot glass, and pour the additional liquid into it. Garnish the cocktail with an orange peel and zest, and serve.

Combined with the sip-and-shot experience, the Manhasset has notes of cinnamon, orange and oak on top of a classic bourbon taste.

“The orange bitters make the bourbon extra smooth, and the extra shot on the side is an homage to the town and how the little extra is there to satisfy a town that enjoys its drinks,” Messman says.

Publicans is located at 550 Plandome Rd. in Manhasset. They can be reached at 516-627-7722 or publicansmanhasset.com

Greenport’s Industry Standard Mixes Up The Night Market

Pandan infused vodka, left, is a key ingredient in Industry Standard's The Night Market, right.

With a menu consisting of modern takes on traditional pub grub and Asian-inspired dishes, one NoFo bar has a new item on its cocktail menu that’s got customers asking, “What’s the Night Market?”

“Night markets in Asia are my favorite way to experience food, culture and flavor,” says Charmaine Strange, bar manager at Industry Standard Bar, a Greenport gastropub. “They’re full of interesting people, and the vendors are always phenomenal.”

With this in mind, last year she asked her executive chef, Greg Ling, to pick up pandan leaves — commonly used to flavor many Southeast Asian dishes — the next time he was in Chinatown. He obliged, and she infused the pandan leaves in Absolut vodka for a month.

“Pandan leaf is a really interesting flavor profile I [had always] wanted to use,” Strange says. “It’s nutty with a vanilla fragrance, which is really what makes it unique.”

She then combined coconut milk, simple syrup and butterfly pea tea, “which is bright blue and very earthy,” into a stainless steel cocktail shaker with the pandan-infused vodka.

“Butterfly pea tea is super cool too,” she says. “It’s a brilliant blue when steeped, but if you add an acid to it, the color changes. It also has a nice light flavoring similar to green tea — herbaceous but not overpowering.”

After shaking the ingredients, she strained them into a highball glass with ice and black tapioca pearls, also known as boba, resting at the bottom.

“Adding the tapioca just makes it a grown-up boba tea!” Strange says. “The cocktail works really well,” she adds. “The fragrances don’t overpower, and its complementary to the Asian dishes on our menu. It’s light, refreshing and easy to drink.”

When asked how she’d describe Night Market to a curious customer, without hesitation, the bar manager replied, “Something like you’ve never tried before but very Asian.”

“When I make drinks I always try to make something that is exactly the right drink for the person in front of me,” she says. “If I can evoke a memory, then I’ve done my part.”

Industry Standard is located at 45 Front St. in Greenport. They can be reached at 631-333-2500 or industrystandardny.com

The Brixton in Babylon Gets ‘Friendly’ With Unagi

Thomas Crawford, bartender at The Brixton in Babylon, drew from Japanese influences when creating the Unagi. No joke: The Brixton in Babylon named the Unagi, pictured right, after a bit on the sitcom Friends.

Fans of the ’90s sitcom Friends don’t have to study martial arts to get a taste of unagi. Instead, they can hit The Brixton in Babylon for its rum-based, comically inspired cocktail.

The bar’s mixologists named the creation after what David Schwimmer’s character Ross claimed to be a state of total awareness he’d developed from years of studying karate. In reality and unknown to the character, unagi is a Japanese word for freshwater eel. But for The Brixton, the word complemented the cocktail because the combination of Asian ingredients initially sparked the creativity behind the finished product.

“I was at a Japanese restaurant, drinking a beer that had yuzu in it, and I was eating miso soup — something so simple,” says veteran bartender Thomas Crawford, who created the cocktail. “I was noticing how you have that umami flavor that’s cutting through the citrus notes and vice versa. They were really playing well with each other. A style of cocktail I’m a big fan of the sour style cocktail, so I took that inspiration and put it to play in unagi.”

The drink’s ingredients include white rum, nori syrup, yuzu juice, sansho, meringue, egg white and a nori chip.

“It’s a balance between earthy, grassy and bright citrus notes,” he says. “You have the depth of those earthy, grassy notes, but then adding to the complexity, you have the bright yuzu citrus.”

It can be found on the latest themed seasonal cocktail menu at The Brixton, which opened nearly a year and a half ago. Their first menu was hip-hop inspired, including cocktails such as “Going Back to Cali” and “Ride or Rye.” The restaurant, which also puts a heavy focus on concocting craft cocktails, centered its second cocktail menu’s theme around ’ 90s sitcom Seinfeld with drink titles such as “Is that Cashmere?” “Serenity Now!” and “Del Boca Vista.” The latest version is a nod to the staff’s camaraderie.

“The reason why we actually chose Friends is because we all have a really good relationship with one another behind the bar,” Crawford says. “Ariana [the bar manager] didn’t want to take this all on by herself, so we all sat down together, as friends ourselves, and we put our heads together and composed this new cocktail program.”

The unagi was one of Crawford’s contributions to the new cocktail list.

“I’m heavily inspired by Japanese culture, in that I love their form of service,” he says. “In the kitchen, Phil has been playing with Asian ingredients himself. We have a ramen noodle night. We have a steamed pork bun night, so I just wanted to create a cocktail that I think would be able to pair with these foods.”

To make the cocktail, Crawford adds the white rum, nori syrup, yuzu juice and egg white into a cocktail shaker tin. He then vigorously shakes the tin without ice for 10 seconds. He then adds ice and goes back to shaking the shaker with the same strength as before for another 10 seconds. Afterward, he double strains the cocktail into a coupe glass. He then dusts the meringue with sansho and adds a nori chip to complete The Brixton’s Unagi.

“People have been loving it — especially industry people,” he says. “For those who want a really good cocktail to pair with some of the Asian-inspired offerings on our menu, and are adventurous and like to try new things, I think this is a great cocktail.”

The Brixton is located at 111 Deer Park Ave. in Babylon. They can be reached at 631-587-2000 or thebrixtonbabylon.com

The Georgia Special: Long Island Iced Tea’s Southern Cousin

Charlotte’s Speakeasy
Charlotte’s Speakeasy Bar Manager Matthew Zeiss spares no rum in The Georgia Special. (Photo by Jennifer Zeiss)

It’s safe to say most Long Islanders are familiar with Long Island Iced Tea (LIIT), but they’re likely not as acquainted with its not-so-distant Southern cousin, The Georgia Special.

Both cocktails are known for being extra strong, but only one has made it onto the cocktail list at Charlotte’s Speakeasy, which has been making a name for itself in the speakeasy community on LI and beyond. The Georgia Special pulls inspiration from LIIT’s best characteristics and strengthens its faults.

“It’s on the sweeter side,” says Matthew Zeiss, bar manager at Charlotte’s Speakeasy, which can be found underneath Charlotte’s Frozen Yogurt on Main Street in Farmingdale and requires a password for patrons to gain entry. “It’s refreshing. It’s also very dangerous. It’s one of those drinks that you don’t realize how much liquor’s in there because it tastes very good; it tastes like juice.”

The drink was inspired by Robert Butt, who invented the Island’s most famous beverage at the Oak Beach Inn in the early 1970s. But Zeiss, who doesn’t particularly like the taste of LITT, which has five types of liquors, began floating ideas around and mixing ingredients in the hope of concocting his own potent cocktail — one that according to him would “taste good right off the bat.”

The essence of The Georgia Special, also known to many as Zeiss Tea (a nod to LIIT and Zeiss) is peach, a flavor that “goes with a lot of liquor,” he adds.

“I first developed The Georgia Special about four years ago,” Zeiss says. “Originally it had a brand of peach whiskey in it, however, it occurred to me to make a recipe that uses more common speedrack ingredients like Robert Butt’s Long Island Iced Tea to allow it to be made just about anywhere. I then switched out the peach whiskey for Captain Morgan Spiced Rum.”

After the bar manager found the right ingredient mix for the drink, he gave the cocktail its name, which he derived from the simple fact that Georgia’s known to many for its peaches. The Georgia Peach was already taken, so he improvised.

“The only hiccup in the recipe was adjusting the color to be more peachy than the yellow and browns that make up the main ingredients,” Zeiss notes. “I added the splash of cranberry to not only offset the sweet with a little tart but to also turn the color into a more pink/peach hue.”

Served over ice in a Collins glass, The Georgia Special is made up of Captain Morgan, Southern Comfort, Apricot Brandy, Peach Schnapps, pineapple juice, orange juice and a splash of cranberry juice. For the finale, it’s garnished with a peach when the fruit is in season. He uses oranges when peaches aren’t available.

The Georgia Special will give imbibers looking to get the party started early on in the night an extra kick almost immediately.

Guest feedback is often “‘This is dangerous,’ simply because it’s so disguised by its taste that you forget how potent it can be,” Zeiss says.

Charlotte’s Speakeasy is located at 294 Main St. in Farmingdale. It can be reached at 516-586-8530 or charlottesspeakeasy.com

The Gulp of Mexico: Salt & Barrel’s Tiki Cocktail

Tequila-based Gulp of Mexico, a twist on tiki cocktails that traditionally call for rum, was aged in the minds of the mixologists who concocted it at Salt & Barrel in Bay Shore.

One of the oyster and craft cocktail bar’s owners has been holding the five-ingredient drink back for two years due to its complexity — until now.

“The Gulp of Mexico basically came about when I was trying to think of a tiki cocktail,” says Morgan Flynn, who co-owns Salt & Barrel with Ryan Flynn, his sister; his dad, Jim Flynn; and Danielle Grosseto, another partner.

Flynn, 43, who stopped bartending a few years back, swaps rum for tequila as the main spirit in Gulp of Mexico. The cocktail specifically calls for añejo tequila, which is a “big, aged tequila, and it’s full of flavor.” This tequila “plays with all of the other ingredients.”

He didn’t settle on the tequila type until after crafting the majority of the drink. He began with orgeat syrup, an almond-based ingredient commonly found in classic tiki cocktails. Every additional ingredient leads him down another path, but what matters is that everything ends up connecting.

“Basically, to me, when I’m creating something, it’s like a web,” Flynn says. Orgeat syrup pointed him to Luxardo Amaretto di Saschira, an Italian liqueur based on apricots and almonds — “That’s the flavoring of it.”

The amaretto directed him to Giffard Apricot Liqueur, a golden yellow liqueur with almond and apricot notes and aromas. The nutty profile and dry fruit led him to sherry.

“A lot of sherries actually have notes of dry nuts, dry fruit to [them],” he says. It was after adding sherry to the mix that he evaluated tequila types for Gulp of Mexico. “I would say when it comes to cocktail making and stuff, not only does my passion for bartending all those years show through, but also a lot of [the] time I spent in the culinary world — in the kitchens and learning food…” he says.

He based his decision to go with añejo on the following: Blanco would disappear and reposado wouldn’t be “heavy enough.” This left the co-owner with only one option: añejo. Fresh-pressed lime juice pulls the drink together, and it’s the last ingredient to go into the shaker.

“We just want it chilled,” he says. “We don’t want to dilute it.”

The bartender then shakes the cocktail shaker softly, being careful not to dilute the finished product. The chilled liquid is poured over ice resting in a stemless tulip glass.

“It basically looks like a tiki drink,” he says.

The cocktail is then garnished with dehydrated pineapple rind.

“[The cocktail] never made it onto the menu in the beginning,” he says. “It’s a drink that I created a long time ago, but it was so complex. You don’t think five ingredients is that complex, but when you’re trying to make a lot of drinks and you’re doing a lot of stuff, it is a lot.

“Most classic cocktails are three ingredients,” he continues. “You never think that getting two more is that difficult, but it is, and it’s time-consuming. It wasn’t until my bar staff got to the point where I felt comfortable with them — that they could execute this drink when they were busy on Friday, Saturday night — I added it on.”

Added to the restaurant’s bar menu just a few months ago, Gulp of Mexico is for the Salt & Barrel customer who wants a smooth drink with a “little bit of a kick.” Someone longing for summer, toes in sand, and sun rays tanning skin and warming rough seas.

“Knock the Corona over, and have a Gulp of Mexico,” he says.

Salt & Barrel is located at 61 West Main St. in Bay Shore. They can be reached at 631-647-8818 or saltandbarrel.com.