CJ Arlotta


Rustic Root’s French Martini The Moira Rose A Nod To Schitt’s Creek

After binge-watching a hit television series during the COVID-19 pandemic, crew members at one Long Island restaurant used one of the show’s lead characters as the inspiration behind revamping a popular cocktail.

“During quarantine, I can honestly say that almost our entire crew was hooked on Schitt’s Creek,” says Ariana Fishman, assistant manager at Rustic Root, a Woodbury-based New American restaurant known for its area-sourced plates, craft beers and signature cocktails.

A Canadian television sitcom, Schitt’s Creek is about a wealthy couple, Johnny and Moira Rose, who end up in a predicament with their children: They’re suddenly broke and have nowhere to live but in a motel in a small town they bought years ago as a joke.

Since they were receiving many requests for French martinis, the Rustic Root team decided to revamp the popular cocktail; for inspiration, they turned to the series they binged during the pandemic.

“We found a way to refine a classic and showcase a beautiful spirit, much like Moira’s character, it’s elegant,” she says.

What makes a martini “French” is when Chambord, a black raspberry liqueur dating back to 17th-century France, is added instead of vermouth.

“We made our own rose syrup with organic dried rose tea, then combined that with Wölffer ‘Pink’ Gim, which is very floral,” she says. “Then we added Chambord and a touch of lemon.”

The Moira Rose is served in a coupe glass and garnished with dried rose petals.

“We’ve had incredible feedback on it,” Fishman says. “Some of our regulars have officially switched go-to cocktails in quarantine, which was amazing to take notice of while we were making the drinks for delivery or carry out.”

Other cocktails available for consumption on Rustic Root’s menu are Smoked Old Fashioned, which Rustic Root is known for; The Firebird; Wagon Wheel; Bump & Grind; The Mule; Bee Sting; Pink Lady; Hemp Thyme; One & Done; and Citrus Side Rye-Der.

“The cocktail and its introduction really does kind of mimic Moira’s journey of finding normalcy, adapting, maintaining former standards and finding happiness,” she says.

Rustic Root is located at 7927 Jericho Tpke. in Woodbury. It can be reached at 516-364-5041 or rusticrootkitchen.com

The Bench Bar And Grill Gets Creative With Mason Jar Cocktails To Go

The Bench is serving up curbside cocktails in mason jars.

Taking over the ownership of a restaurant amid a pandemic is simply bad timing, but with a little creativity and some alcohol, a restaurateur can make the best of an unfortunate situation. 

That was the case for Marios Patatinis, who recently purchased The Bench Bar And Grill in Stony Brook with a couple of partners and also owns Sweet Mama’s and Grandpa’s Shed.

“The COVID-19 pandemic forced us and others restaurants to think outside the box,” says Patatinis. “Outside of our food, which can be ordered to go through several platforms, our customers were missing out on our cocktails, so it just made sense for us to get creative and do something fun.”

The Bench’s management team put their heads together — while keeping 6 feet apart, of course — tossed some ideas around and ultimately settled on the concept of packaging to-go cocktails in 24-ounce mason jars, which hold two and a half drinks. 

The Bench’s to-go cocktail menu lists three drinks: 3V-Rita classic margarita, a rum punch dubbed the patriot, and what’s known as shepherds-ade, made up of vodka, homemade lemonade, seltzer, and Arnold Palmer Iced Tea, and garnished with fresh blueberries.

One of the challenges The Bench has been facing during the COVID-19 pandemic is operating during rush hour with a limited staff. The bar and grill receives many of its to-go orders during a three-hour window in the evening.

“We’re banging out an average of about 50 to-go cocktails a night,” he says.

The response has been incredible, Patatinis says. Many of The Bench’s customers have kept their mason jars instead of throwing them away, using them as part of home decor, or to preserve food or store other items. 

Some restaurants on Long Island have been offering to-go cocktails to partially compensate for lost revenue as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Many of these restaurants, including The Bench, plan on continuing to sell to-go cocktails after the pandemic passes.

“We’re going to keep offering to-go cocktails after the COVID-19 pandemic, and build upon our current menu,” he says.

The Bench Bar And Grill is located at 1095 NY-25A in Stony Brook it can be reached at 631-675-1474 or thebenchbar.com

Related Story: The Babylon Express: All Aboard For Classy Curbside Cocktail

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The Babylon Express: All Aboard For Classy Curbside Cocktail

Without being able to visit their favorite night spots for cocktails, Long Islanders have been turning to curbside cocktail pickup and delivery services, although the fancy glasses are lost in the mix.

Seeking to quench the thirst of imbibers near and far, Islip-based Bohlsen Restaurant Group (BRG) is offering delivery service for the most popular cocktail in the high-end Long Island dining outfit: The Babylon Express.

“The Babylon Express was created to be the feature cocktail at Monsoon Steak & Sushi in Babylon,” says Paulo Villela, beverage director of BRG, which owns the restaurant known for its Pan-Asian fare. “The inspiration behind the drink was to bring the New York City vibe to mid-Long Island with a fun and easy-to-drink cocktail that appeals to everyone and would go well with Pan-Asian dishes.

“Having been a longtime New York City commuter for eight years myself, the best way to go from Times Square to my home in Long Island was to catch the Babylon Express,” he continues. “The drink connects Long Island to Manhattan gastronomically as the train does physically. And so, the name was born.”

The cocktail has four ingredients: St-Germain elderflower liqueur, Crop Cucumber Vodka, pineapple juice, and lime juice. When combined, they “create an incredible depth of flavor,” he says. 

“The St-Germain adds subtle floral and herbaceous notes to the cocktail, flavors that pair nicely with sushi, raw bar items, and seafood,” Villela says. “The tropical flavors of the pineapple add richness to the drink, making it more versatile to pair with richer, fattier fishes and meats. The addition of fresh lime adds acidity to balance out any sweetness, making for a lively and crisp flavor experience.”

To make the cocktail at home, pour all ingredients into a mixing glass. Then, shake about 30 times, strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice, and garnish with a cucumber slice.

The drink has become so popular that competitors have added the cocktail to their own drink menus, but here’s a little secret: BRG’s fun, crispy, and refreshing drink won’t be found under the same name, Villela says. 

Patrons can have the pre-batched Babylon Express cocktail delivered straight to your door from several of BRG’s restaurants, including Tellers, H20, and Verace.

“Babylon Express is the No. 1-selling cocktail in five of our restaurants,” he says. “Its popularity made The Babylon Express a clear choice to offer for pickup and delivery at this time, so that Long Island residents are still able to enjoy the cocktail they love at home.”

Contact information for BRG’s restaurants can be found at brgroup.biz/our-restaurants


One10 in Melville Rolls Out Barrel-Aged Margarita

One10 in Melville barrel ages its margaritas. 

When you see a barrel-aged cocktail on a menu, the base spirit typically isn’t tequila — but there’s always a first time for everything. 

“This cocktail is fun and sexy,” says John A. Nicoletti, bar manager of One10, a modern Italian restaurant and lounge located in Melville. “We are having so much fun with our guests and love watching the reaction as they taste this play on a modern classic.”

One10’s barrel-age margarita has several main ingredients: Patrón Reposado, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao and raw sugar simple syrup.

“Take all those ingredients and literally age them for no less than 90 days in Buffalo Trace whiskey barrels,” he says. “The process that takes place over the 90 days is what sets this cocktail apart. The marriage of tequila and oak barrels invokes all of the beautiful vanilla to come to the forefront of the cocktail.”

After the aging process is complete, he then takes the unfinished mixture and bottles 3.5 ounces into 200 milliliter Patrón bottles. 

“When the cocktail itself is ordered, we then finish it with fresh-pressed lime juice, rounding off this cocktail with the right amount of bright citrus,” Nicoletti says. “It is then served table side or barside with a dusted partial rim of sea salt, fresh lime twist and our signature One10 ice block.”

Even though he’s made numerous barrel-aged cocktails over the years, this one is special. 

“This by far might be the most fun of them all,” he says. “Typically, we see brown spirits used in cocktails of this sort (e.g., rum, bourbon, rye, or scotch), but for this one I tried to think outside the box a bit.”

So far, the feedback has been exceptional.

“The best way I love describing this cocktail is it’s the type of margarita I want when I order one, and thus far, our guests agree,” he says. “It has become our number one seller.”

One10 is located at 569 Broadhollow Rd., Melville. It can be reached at 631-694-3333 or one10restaurant.com

The Red Neck: A ‘Dangerous’ Spirit From Twin Stills Moonshine Distillery

The Red Neck cocktail is as powerful as it is simple.

Known primarily for its small-batch whiskeys and flavor-infused moonshines, Twin Stills Moonshine Distillery in Riverhead shares more than just its spirits with its customers — there’s a legacy behind the brand. 

“We have two 250-liter stills,” says Joe Cunha, who owns Twin Stills, a family owned and operated distillery, with his wife, Patty, and is the head distiller. “They’re handcrafted from Portugal. They’re small batch in the true sense of distilling.”

His grandfather distilled Grappa and various infusions of spirits in Portugal many years ago. After his grandfather passed away, Cunha decided to continue the legacy his grandfather had left behind by attempting to recreate some of the spirits he distilled.

For his products, he sources all his ingredients (including corn, grain and fruit) locally from a farm around the corner from the distillery called Zilnicki Farms, a fourth-generation family farm located in Riverhead. 

Some of the distillery’s products include o’OldTymerWhiskey, made from Long Island corn and aged in American White Oak; Honey Moonshine, 100 percent moonshine infused with all-natural Long Island honey; Mixed Berry Moonshine, made from all-natural blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries; and Apple Pie Moonshine, one of Twin Stills’ bestselling products.

There are nine cocktails on the distillery’s cocktail menu, many of which call for the distillery’s Apple Pie Moonshine, marketed by Twin Stills Moonshine as “Momma’s apple pie but half the calories and twice the fun.” 

Among the cocktails listed, one stands out for its simplicity: The Red Neck.

Easy to make, The Red Neck has two ingredients: Apple Pie Moonshine and cranberry juice. Mix both in a cocktail glass with ice and garnish with a lemon wedge. 

Many customers describe the distillery’s Apple Pie Moonshine as “dangerous,” he says.

“It’s very, very smooth, and if you’re not careful, you could drink a bottle of it,” he says.

Twin Stills Moonshine Distillery is located at 5506 Sound Ave., #5608, in Riverhead. It can be reached at 631-779-3199  or liooldtymer.com

Treme Jazz Club Goes Tiki With The Wild Child

When reviewing the cocktail menu at a jazz club, you might not expect to find a tiki cocktail on the list, but maybe you should. 

The Wild Child is just such a beachy South Pacific-themed gem of a beverage that jumps out from the cocktail list at Treme, a blues and jazz club in downtown Islip named for the New Orleans neighborhood where jazz originated, with a Nawlins ambiance to match.

“I wanted something ‘tiki’ on the cocktail menu,” says Josh Thompson, owner of Treme, which serves up Cajun-style tapas with a side of sweet tunes. “Something that we could pay homage to Trader Vic and Don Beach with. Both of these gentlemen were considered pioneers in tiki culture.”

To capture the culture in a glass, Thompson did his best to stay true to such cocktails of the past by incorporating traditional ingredients into The Wild Child, which he named after nothing in particular. Naming cocktails isn’t something he enjoys as much as say, his club’s epic Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras Party, which falls on Feb. 25 this year and features the Slap Yo’ Mama Jazz Brigade.

The mixture consists of falernum, lime juice, orgeat, cream of coconut, silver Jamaican rum, and raspberry puree. 

“We do make our own orgeat syrup and raspberry puree,” Thompson says. “This cocktail starts with a light coating of raspberry puree on the bottom of the glass. Then we combine the ingredients, shake, and strain over crushed ice. Garnish with a flower and add a pinch of coconut shavings over the top.”

Even though guests are oftentimes a “little intimidated by the ingredients” at first, he says, they typically end up changing their minds after learning how the drink’s components work together to deliver an excotic beverage bursting with tropical flavor. 

“The guests have really enjoyed this cocktail,” he says. “Some people come by just for The Wild Child. I really enjoy watching someone try it for the first time. It’s always love at first sight. Quite often someone sees the drink from across the bar and wants to order one.”

Treme is located at 553 Main St. in Islip. It can be reached at 631-277-2008 or tremeislip.com

The Wild Child is garnished with an edible flower.

Local Roots Add To Flavor of Long Island Spirits’ Rye

Craft Bar Chef Samantha Schuman pours a glass of Long Island Spirits.

Even though Long Island Spirits began producing vodka when it first opened, it’s now also known for several spirits, including gin, bourbon and, of course, its rye, which garnered popularity after it won the Chairman’s Award the 2018 Ultimate Spirits Competition. 

Its spirit’s flavor can be attributed to the East End distillery’s progressive distillation processes, including the use of champagne yeast. But what matters most is the terroir.

“Rye is a very terroir-sensitive grain,” says Richard Stabile, founder and proprietor at LI Spirits, one of a handful of distilleries on Long Island. “It’s deep rooted, and farmers refer to it as a cleansing grain. Ryes have different flavors from all around the country, primarily because they are deep rooted.”

Farmers on Long Island tend to use what’s known as winter rye as a cover crop, which acts as a protectant against soil erosion. Since winter rye is a deep-rooted plant, it absorbs many of the flavor profiles from its surrounding areas, some of which are produced by the Island’s wineries, giving the distillery’s rye a distinct flavor.

“Our ryes tend to be a bit sweeter, where most ryes are very spicy,” he says. 

While Rough Rider Bull Three Barrel Moose Rye Whisky can be sipped neat or on the rocks, the distillery encourages customers to use the spirit in their own cocktails at home or try one of the many cocktails listed on the menu at the distillery’s tasting room.  

For instance, take the traditional Manhattan cocktail. While LI Spirits does offer it, something new has recently hit the menu — and to make it, one would need the distillery’s branded smoked cocktail kit, which includes several branded components, including a torch and charred 8-inch staves cut from old Rough Rider bourbon barrels.  

LI Spirits’ smoked Manhattan cocktail is made with the standard ingredients; however, the key to getting the distinct flavor is smoking the glass ahead of time with the staves. 

“You’ll see the smoke enveloping the inside of the glass, and then you put some cubes in there, and then you have your Manhattan, and go right into it — just delicious,” he says.

LI Spirits is located at 2182 Sound Ave. in Baiting Hollow. It can be reached at 631-630-9322 or lispirits.com


The Babe Returns To Schout Bay Tavern

A glance at the drinks menu at Schout Bay Tavern reveals some familiar cocktails such as the Manhattan, and unique creations ranging from the North Shore to the Fire Fox.

One beverage stands out among the rest, but baseball fans who stop by for a drink may be disappointed to learn the true story behind “The Babe” cocktail isn’t about Babe Ruth.

“It’s named for Barbara ‘Babe’ Cushing Mortimer Paley, a famous socialite from the ’50s and ’60s who had a home in Manhasset,” says Pete Keogh, who opened Schout Bay Tavern, a gastropub that serves locally sourced and organic ingredients whenever possible, in Manhasset four years ago.

While she was known for being a fashion and style icon in addition to her socialite status, Paley’s husband, William S. Paley, was famous in his own right. He helped build CBS into the media conglomerate it is today. She passed in 1978 and the couple’s final resting place is in Cold Spring Harbor.

Ingredients in Schout Bay Tavern’s The Babe cocktail include Código 1530 Rosa Tequila, agave and lime.

“We built this cocktail around the Codigo 1530 Rosa Tequila,” Keogh says. “It’s a blanco that’s rested for one month in Napa cabernet barrels. We wanted to make a simple cocktail, and a little agave and lime worked well.”

Making The Babe is simple. Pour all the ingredients into a mixing glass, add ice cubes and shake. Strain into a cold cocktail glass with a salted rim. Garnish with a lime wheel.

“The Babe is a fresh, crisp cocktail,” he says. “It’s a great alternative to a margarita for those who want something a little less sweet. It’s been so popular that we can’t take it off our list.”

Schout Bay Tavern is located at 118 Plandome Rd. in Manhasset. It can be reached at 516-627-2190 or schoutbaytavern.com

Insignia Prime Steak And Sushi Mixes A New Old-Fashioned

Bar Manager Charles Filippazzo mixes up Insignia's take on an old fashioned.

The old-fashioned is a go-to cocktail every bartender knows how to concoct. 

While cocktail traditionalists prefer the typical ingredients in the old-fashioned, mixologists are always testing new recipes — and sometimes, what they come up with satisfies traditionalists and imbibers looking for a twist on the classic. 

“We really wanted to take a classic cocktail and make it our own, put a different spin on it as we do a lot with our food menu as well,” says Charles Filippazzo, general and bar manager at Insignia Prime Steak and Sushi in Smithtown.

He came up with the cocktail out of “pure necessity,” he says. 

“My buddy had invited a few people over to his house during a big winter storm and a lot more people came than he expected,” Filippazzo says. “He eventually ran out of drinks so I dug around in his fridge and I found this huge jar of ginger-honey jam. I threw it in with some water and boiled it down and mixed it with bourbon and it tasted pretty good and kept the party going. Eventually, I mixed that concoction with my love for old-fashioneds and substituted the jam for ginger liqueur and clover honey.”

The cocktail is made with Bulleit Bourbon, Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur, local honey, and muddled cherry and orange. 

“It’s pretty simple, but it’s tasty and refreshing and you can drink it all year round,” Filippazzo says. 

Insignia introduced the cocktail last winter. Since then, it’s been the most popular drink on the restaurant’s cocktail list. 

“Our guests love it, nobody ever orders just one,” he says. “We even get a lot of requests from guests having their weddings here to have it as their signature cocktail for their special day.”

Insignia Prime Steak & Sushi is located at 610 Smithtown Bypass in Smithtown. It can be reached at 631-656-8100 or insigniasteakhouse.com 

King Fish Oyster Bar & Restaurant’s New Sophisticated Cocktail: The Vanderbilt

The Vanderbilt is a sophisticated craft cocktail named for the hotel in which Kingfish Oyster Bar & Restaurant resides.

A cocktail should aim to not only play with taste buds through the rhythmic dancing of flavors but to also enhance the experience of its immediate surroundings.

Following this approach, mixologists at Kingfish Oyster Bar & Restaurant in Westbury were inspired by their locale when concocting one of the more sophisticated cocktails on its menu.

“I wanted to create a drink that was beautiful, sexy, sophisticated, and interesting — just like the gorgeous building we are located in,” says Courtney Schaudel, general manager at Kingfish Oyster Bar & Restaurant, an upscale seafood restaurant located in The Vanderbilt, a luxury apartment rental residence and hotel. “The building owner had this idea of doing a masculine Creamsicle, and this was one of those rare drinks that came to fruition very quickly. I ended up commuting to the first incarnation.”

One of the cocktail’s key ingredients is egg white, which gives the drink “its swag,” she says. It’s what enriches The Vanderbilt’s texture. 

“The white goes in first, to ensure no shells try to get in on the action, followed by the rest of the ingredients,” Schaudel says. “Top the shaker with ice and shake for 15 seconds. This allows the white to emulsify with its counterparts and creates a slinky, beautiful finish. One of our bartenders is a bodybuilder, and she jokes that this drink is part of her arm workout.”

Besides egg white, The Vanderbilt is also made with High West Bourbon, tangerine juice, Peychaud’s Bitters, house-made orange marmalade, and Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur. 

“This drink is a grownup Creamsicle,” Schaudel says. “It appeals to both men and women. The citrus softens the bourbon, making it a crowd-pleaser. It has sweet notes of tangerine, but the bourbon brings it back down to earth. It’s one of those dangerously delicious cocktails.”

The cocktail is served up in a coupe glass and garnished with a long orange twist.

“Some people are a bit freaked out by the egg white factor, but once they hear the reasoning behind it, almost everyone gets on board,” she says. “It does take a little patience, because the creation is a labor of love, like any crafted cocktail. But it’s certainly worth the wait.”

Kingfish Oyster Bar & Restaurant, 990 Corporate Dr., Westbury, kingfishoysterbar.com