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Five New NYC Cocktails to Try This January

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Crowd at Maison Premiere
Crowd at Maison Premiere
[Jenny Adams]

With the proliferation of high quality cocktails in this city, both in specialty bars and high and low end restaurants, it can be hard to keep track of all that's on offer in New York and easy to slip into the pattern of ordering the same old gin and tonic or perfect Manhattan at every stop. So here's the latest edition of Strive for Five, a new column where Eater highlights five excellent drinks to try every month at bars and restaurants helmed by New York's best cocktail talents. Time to get drinking.

Maharlika's Weng Weng
111 1st Ave., East Village
2012 is setting up to be a kick ass year. The drink to start it off needs to measure up to the sprawling potential laid in front of us. Without-a-doubt the optimal way to firmly set your feet in 2012 is to head to Maharlika (the city’s best Filipino joint) and demand a Weng Weng. It’s a wonky, Southeast Asian version of the pickleback. They warm up a shotglass full of gin (shhhhh-udder). Then, they add a second shotglass and calmly pour another shot of the house-made cane vinegar, which is infused for months (yes months) with face-melting bird chilies. The process is simple. Shoot the gin. Slam the vinegar. On paper, it sounds horrific. In reality, it’s bizarre and fun and basically the liquid equivalent of a night out in the East Village. What you do after The Weng Weng is up to you, but kissing your date is just plain wrong.

Maison Premiere's Battle of Landriano
298 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg
Maison Premiere does New Orleans like New Orleans “should” be done. First off, you won’t get shot, stabbed or hassled heading in the door. More importantly, they have more absinthe labels than the border between Switzerland and France and a décor that would make Toulouse Lautrec weep for joy. It’s authentic without being kitsch. The menu offers oysters to order by the singular shell, and this January they posted the Battle of Landriano cocktail ($11). We owe them a massive, citywide thanks for this one. The drink is equal parts Lucid absinthe, Cinzano, Punt e Mes, and Oloroso Sherry - stirred and siphoned into a gorgeous crystal glass that’s frosty and fresh from the freezer. Your first sip is going to have a lovely, velvet, almost-chocolate thing going on from the sherry. Then, as the ice louches the absinthe, the flavor morphs to a stronger presence of anise and herb, giving you a cocktail that’s never quite the same with each progressive swallow.

Elsa's New Partner
217 East 3rd St., East Village
Elsa’s décor hinges on clean lines. Edison bulbs light simple white walls and baker’s board, diminutive booths. Their cocktail list skews opposite, touting creations that will make most drinkers raise an eyebrow in question. Go with The New Partner ($13). Named for a Will Oldham song, it begins with Old Overholt rye whiskey infused for 12 hours with Caraway seeds. They then shake in honey, mint, velvet falernum, lemon juice, wormwood bitters and pressed apple cider sourced from upstate. (Like we said – simple décor, complex tipples). The effect is warming rye bread and apple pie, supplemented perfectly by the fragrance of large rosemary sprig garnish.

Toscano’s Eastside Raspberry Mint
1544 Second Ave., Upper East Side
Toscano’s opened on the Upper East Side last May, with two genius decisions in operation. One, they rented a location with a coal-burning pizza oven (there are only a handful remaining in the city). Secondly, they asked acclaimed mixologist James Moreland to design a drink menu. While many pizza places would be fine with sliding you a beer, this one apparently felt their pies deserved a side cocktail muscle. The Eastside Raspberry Mint ($10) isn’t crazy complicated. It’s just crazy refreshing. Muddled mint, raspberries and lemon juice get a heavy pour of gin. That lands over ice in a tall Collins glass. It’s a bit of respite for the fact that it’s winter outside (and you’re on the Upper East Side.)

Hanson Dry's Gabriel’s Gift
925 Fulton St., Clinton Hill
Gabriel’s Gift ($9) was designed for a regular customer, who’s last name happened to be Gideon. Owner Chris Buckley offered to give her "one of the angels" in jest, and placed a full two-ounces of Laird’s Applejack into a shaker with pineapple juice, a barspoon of Galliano, a bit of the Canadian honey whiskey Yukon Jack, and a dash of Angostura bitters. The sweetness level on this cocktail is surprisingly tame. It’s nicely rounded and it fits inside the cozy Hanson Dry. The room, with it’s glossy curved bar, grey walls and black-and-white photos, reminds me of a scene in It’s a Wonderful Life. When interviewed by a publication before opening last year, Chris Buckley was quoted as saying: “I’d like people to meet up, have a drink, and make out.” Congrats Buckley. You nailed that vibe dead on.
— Jenny Adams
· All Editions of Strive for Five [~ENY~]

Maison Premiere

298 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11249 (347) 889-5710 Visit Website

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