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On The House: Cocktails in Crisis

On the House is our regular column written by the owners and operators of the great food and beverage establishments of New York. Your resident proprietor on this fine day is William Tigertt of Freemans.

2006_09_onethehouseA.jpgNew York has most vibrant cocktail scene in the country. New cocktails bars and lounges that are focused on the quality of drinks are popping up like mushrooms with new additions like Death & Co. and upcoming Gold Bar.

Unfortunately, all is not well in cocktail land. Global warming and El Nino have conspired to redirect New York’s early winter weather down south. California and Florida both have been hit by winter storms that have decimated this year’s citrus crop. Prices on fruit have more than doubled in the past week and there is no end in sight.

The prices of lemons, limes, and oranges may seem like a small thing, but after the booze they are biggest daily expense for high end cocktail bars that use all fresh juice and bountiful fruit garnishes. We go through crates of fruit a night to keep downtown awash in whisky sours, gin flips, and even the humble margaritas. With these price increases costing bars hundreds of dollars a day you can expect to see an impact.

Bottom line: Expect your $12 cocktail to edge up to $13 or $14 if prices don’t level off in the coming weeks. Also expect to see juice heavy daiquiris and fizzes replaced on menus with Manhattans and Old Fashion variants (the turn of the century original recipes with just whisky and bitters – no 50’s style cherries or muddled oranges, please). The big rub with drink prices is that they don’t tend to drop once they’ve been established – so don’t expect a discount later once prices normalize. For NYC cocktail geeks it looks like this winter just got a little colder.


· On The House, Archives [~E~]

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