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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

Bistro 72’s Locally Sourced Mead Cocktail: Mead Me at Bistro

When luck pairs a local meadery with a restaurant that sources only locally grown ingredients and regional wines, something special happens — and it’s quite sweet. 

Mead Me at Bistro is a drink inspired by Beacon Meadery in Mattituck, says Robert Salvatico, president and COO of Hotel Indigo East End, which houses Bistro 72, an American restaurant and lounge with a farm-to-table menu ranging from tacos to flatbreads, burgers and seafood. The partnership came about after a chance meeting between executives from Bistro 72 and Beacon Meadery at the Long Island Food Council Summer Celebration, which hosted food and beverage tastings for more than 200 people. 

“At Bistro 72, we use local ingredients from Long Island’s East End at any chance, and to work with this start-up for a light and crisp summer cocktail was a perfect match,” Salvatico says.

Mead Me at Bistro is made with Beacon Meadery Raspberry Mead, Deepwells Botanical Dry Gin (produced by Long Island Spirits, a microdistillery in Baiting Hollow), fresh raspberries, lime, and club soda. 

“With few ingredients, each flavor can be tasted as they work together for this summertime cooldown,” Salvatico says. “The mead is sweet and a bit thick in texture; paired with gin and club soda it cuts to a fresh and light texture with plenty to dance on your pallet. The muddled fresh fruit adds little bursts of summer and the lime juice adds a zing to accompany the raspberry.”

To make the cocktail, muddle the fresh raspberries with lime. Add the Beacon Meadery Raspberry Mead and Deepwells Gin into a cocktail shaker. Shake and pour over ice in a collins glass. Top with club soda, and garnish with a lime wedge and raspberry. 

“This new addition has been well received by guests,” he says. “With the growth in popularity of mead, it grabs attention with its fun name and bright color. Many people visit Long Island’s East End to try new spirits; having mead on the menu absolutely fits into the experience our guests are looking for.”

Bistro 72 is located at 1830 W. Main St. in Riverhead. It can be reached at 631-369-3325 or bistro-72.com

Montauk’s Swallow East Turns Cocktail Into Tea Party

The Midsummer Solstice G & Tea Party is a cocktail like no other.

If you’re looking for a cocktail experience in Montauk this summer, then you’ll want to bring a group of friends with you for a special tea time at Swallow East Restaurant.  

The Midsummer Solstice G & Tea Party is not just a cocktail. It’s an interactive experience. And it’s a nod to it’s creator’s grandma.

“Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother,” says Mariah Finkelman, bar manager at the waterside eatery nearby Gosman’s Dock. “Any time I would go over to her house, we would make a giant mess of the kitchen, cooking bread and pasta while we sipped tea at the kitchen table and had tea parties. I have a large mismatched teacup collection back home because of her. I always thought it would be fun to have a cocktail ‘tea service,’ and I was lucky to partner with Hendrick’s Gin to bring that to life. This cocktail is my homage to my favorite person, my grandmother.”

For Midsummer Solstice g & tea party, she uses Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice, raspberry-infused violet liqueur, fresh squeezed lemon juice, simple syrup, and four dashes of orange bitters for balance.

“It’s more than just a cocktail, it’s a whole experience,” she says. “I wanted to make this drink fun and interactive. It’s definitely a conversation starter. The drink really captures the essence of summer with its fresh flavors and beautiful shade of violet.”

She begins by infusing the violet liqueur with fresh raspberries for a few hours. 

“Once the raspberries have been infused long enough and all the flavor is drawn out, I strain and begin batching each teapot,” she says.  “I shake all the ingredients together with ice, fill our teapots, and serve it in teacups with a fresh raspberry garnish for each.” 

This cocktail serves four to six guests who want “something light, refreshing and fun,” Finkelman says.

“The feedback has been great,” she says. “People are so surprised and excited to be drinking a cocktail served out of a teapot with teacups.”

Swallow East Restaurant is located at 474 West Lake Dr. in Montauk. It can be reached at 631-668-8344 or swalloweastrestaurant.com

CJ’s Restaurant & Bar: Home of The Rocket Fuel

The Rocket Fuel, a popular drink on Fire Island and beyond, was invented by CJ's Restaurant & Bar.

For nearly 50 years, CJ’s Restaurant & Bar has been serving the Fire Island community in various ways, but what it’s ultimately become known for is one of its piña colada-esque cocktails, giving the iconic establishment the nickname of “Home of the Rocket Fuel.”

“The Rocket Fuel was founded in 1971 at CJ’s Fire Island,” says Chris Mercogliano, a manager at The Palms Hotel, which owns the Fire Island staple. “It has become the drink of Fire Island and is served at many bars and restaurants. However, the best and still original version is served at CJ’s.”

To accommodate demand for the cocktail in the 1970s, when it was opened in Ocean Beach by John “Gio” Palermo and named after his son, Christopher John, CJ’s had five high-speed blenders and designated several employees to be “special Rocket Fuel makers,” whose only job was to make the cocktail, Mercogliano says.

Today, CJ’s still has teams of “blender guys and girls” behind the bar to ensure Rocket Fuels are concocted as quickly as they’re ordered. 

When asked how he’d describe the Rocket Fuel, he replies, “As the drink of the locals and all of Fire Island.”

Basically, the Rocket Fuel is a “151-proof rum-infused piña colada,” Mercogliano says.

The cocktail contains 151-proof rum, Coco Lopez, pineapple juice, amaretto, and ice. After the ingredients are blended and poured into a cup, a cherry is then added as a garnish.

Rob Weber, the restaurant’s general manager, would describe the drink to someone who’s never had it before as “Imagine what heaven would taste like if it would fit in a glass.”

“People come to CJ’s specifically for an original Rocket Fuel  the same way people travel to Nathan’s in Coney Island for an original Nathan’s hot dog,” Mercogliano says. 

Babylon Mudslide Back By Popular Demand at Salt Shack

Regulars at the Beach Hut, the oceanfront bar and restaurant in Cedar Beach, were disappointed when the venue changed hands, became the equally popular Salt Shack, and dropped the Babylon Mudslide from the menu last summer.

But there is good news for 2019: Salt Shack, which opened for the season in early May, has brought back the one, the only Babylon Mudslide.

“The new owners of the Salt Shack made improvements in every aspect of this beachfront resort with a focus on speed of cocktails and speed and quality of food,” says Mark Miller, who owns the seaside grill with several other established restaurateurs on the island. “We invested in the best frozen drink machines that money could buy in order to remove the lines waiting for frozen drinks. Mission was accomplished and every drink improved — except one.”

Salt Shack’s owners opened the business’s doors in 2018 without the Beach Hut’s Mudslide on the menu.

“We took the old Mudslide off the menu because making it with ice cream was time-consuming, and we no longer wanted lines for anything,” Miller says.

Throughout the first year of business, what the owners learned was the following: The Mudslide was a community staple. After taking customer feedback into consideration, the owners decided to bring back the Babylon Mudslide because “the people of Babylon were so passionate about it,” he says.

The ingredients for the Babylon Mudslide are as follows: Kahlúa, Absolut Vodka, Bailey’s, milk and (of course) ice cream.

“The drink of the year at the Salt Shack 2019 will be the return of the Babylon Mudslide, with real chocolate chip ice cream,” he says. “The people have spoken!”

Throw the drink’s ingredients into a blender with ice and blend. The drink’s served in a 16-ounce Salt Shack Cup with a Hershey’s Chocolate rim.  

“Your two-hour vacation starts at the Salt Shack on Ocean Parkway in Babylon,” he says.

Mill Creek Tavern Pays Homage To Oyster Bay’s Most Prominent Resident With Sagamore’s Rex

Mill Creek Tavern in Bayville mixed Sagamore’s Rex cocktail with Teddy Roosevelt in mind.

To celebrate the life of one of Oyster Bay’s most prominent residents, Mill Creek Tavern in Bayville developed its Sagamore’s Rex cocktail with the area’s history in mind.

“The cocktail was created after a meeting with the team at Mill Creek Tavern and researching the history of the area,” says Nolan Studley, an artisanal spirit specialist at Mill Creek Tavern, an American bar and grill overlooking the Long Island Sound.

“They related a funny story about making a cocktail with maca root for a regular and his very excitable reaction,” he says. “They wanted to take on the challenge of introducing more cocktails with unexpected modifiers and ingredients. They specifically mentioned beet juice as an ingredient that would be fun to show guests how ‘healthy’ beet juice can be part of a delicious cocktail.”

Made famous in recent times by Long Island native Billy Joel’s “The Ballad of Billy the Kid,” Oyster Bay is also known to be the late home of one of the country’s better-known commander-in-chiefs, President Theodore Roosevelt.

Roosevelt spent his childhood at Sagamore Hill, which served as the Summer White House during the seven summers he spent there as the country’s president.

The cocktail includes Sagamore Spirit Signature Rye Whiskey, lemon juice, beet juice and thyme-infused simple syrup.

“After reading more about Theodore Roosevelt and Sagamore Hill, the idea for the cocktail emerged naturally, and the riff on a sour seemed like a fun way to pay homage to such a historic figure from the area,” Studley says.

To make Sagamore’s Rex, simply add all the ingredients to a shaker and shake well over ice. Then, strain over a large ice cube and express a lemon peel for garnish.

“It’s tart, savory, lightly and fresh — a refreshing spring/summer rye drink,” he says.

Mill Creek Tavern is located at 275 Bayville Ave., Bayville. It can be reached at 516-289-9489 or millcreekny.com

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