NYC's Must-Try New Cocktails, Winter Edition

By James Mulcahy  |  February 18, 2014
Credit: Clay Williams

A snapshot of what's happening on New York City's ever-evolving cocktail scene: a remade dirty martini, a revised Negroni and Indian-spiced drinks designed to pair with curries and dosas. Read on for our must-try drinks for winter 2014 - and let us know if we missed any of your favorites in the comments below. 

  • Credit: Clay Williams

    Telepan Local's Nutty Apostle 

    The Ingredients: Pecan-infused bourbon, Lucano Amaro, St. John Commandaria, aromatic bitters

    The pun detector is about to go off the charts, but you really will go nuts for this new ditty being poured at Bill Telepan's TriBeca eatery. Nutty drinks usually skew sweet - think of all the hazelnut and walnut liqueurs out there - but the pecan-infused bourbon offers a savory wallop that combines with the bitters for a result that should appeal to drinkers of Manhattans and Old Fashioneds.There are many layers in this tiny glass - the amaro provides some herbs while the Commandaria, a dessert wine, gives it a sherrylike kick. The mixologist that came up with this one was truly inspired - we guarantee that you've never had anything like it before.

    329 Greenwich St.; 212-966-9255

  • Credit: Clay Williams

    Empire Diner's Pickled Martini

    The Ingredients: Jalapeño-infused vodka, pickled vegetable brine and pickled carrot garnish

    Reasons to Sip: The dirty martini is undergoing an evolution in the Big Apple. Gone is the gross, stale olive juice that is haphazardly poured from a garnish well on the bar. At Amanda Freitag's Empire Diner in Chelsea, a hit of brine is provided via pickled vegetable juice. The drink's base is jalapeño-infused vodka, so you've got a little heat and a little salt, which combines into a whole lot of awesome. The entire thing is topped off with a pickled carrot - we didn't miss the classic olives for a second.

    210 10th Ave.; 212-596-7523

  • Credit: Clay Williams

    Analogue's Mata Hari

    The Ingredients: Cognac shaken with homemade chai-infused vermouth, fresh lemon and pomegranate juice. Served up, and topped with dried flower buds.

    Reasons to Sip: A modern classic, the Mata Hari was popularized by the maestros behind the bars at Employees Only and Macao Trading Co., and now it's being served at this off-the-radar West Village cocktail bar, which is a must-visit for fans of serious drinks (and much less crowded than the libation dens that birthed this beverage). The spiced chai makes this combo feel a little exotic, while the pomegranate provides a tart little punch. Sipped in a room that's bedecked in brown leather and feels like a library from the Mad Men era, it's a class NYC experience, all the way.

    19 W. Eighth St.; 212-432-0200

  • Credit: Clay Williams

    Dosa Royale's Pondicherry Punch 

    The Ingredients: Light rum, Velvet Falernum, hibiscus tea, angostura bitters

    Reasons to Sip: When you hear "dosa," you don't necessarily think cocktail, but this new Indian eatery in Cobble Hill has made sure to craft a beverage program that's as serious as the crêpes coming out of the kitchen. The secret ingredient here is the Falernum, which contains hints of ginger and cloves that pair well with the flavor-packed chutneys on the menu. It's a light, cool drink, good for summer - or for cooling down your mouth after it comes across the food's hidden heat.

    316 Court St.; 718-576-3800

  • Credit: Clay Williams

    Monarch Room's Thin Red Line

    The Ingredients: Old Forester Bourbon, Banks 7 Island Rum, Benedictine, yuzu, cardamom-infused maple syrup, monarch orange bitters, red wine float.

    Reasons to Sip: When we first read the list of ingredients for this whopper at this new Chelsea hot spot, we had one reaction: whaaaaaaa? The bartenders in this swank restaurant came up with an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink recipe, and the sink probably would have went in too if it fit into that lowball glass. The beverage is complex, but don't be scared: it's a drinker's drink, boozy with bold flavors. The red wine that tops the cocktail lessens the edges of the citrus and bourbon, and the whole thing blends together into a memorable mix that feels somewhere between tiki and old-school classic - let's call it a cocktail adventure.

    408 W. 15th St.; 646-790-7070

  • Credit: Clay Williams

    The Heath's Norseman

    The Ingredients: Eau de Vie Pomme, Laird's Bonded Applejack, Cocchi Torino, Nardini Bassano, Orleans Bitter

    Reasons to Sip: There's a lot more going on in the McKittrick Hotel than the theater installation Sleep No More, and you don't need a ticket to visit the venue's new bar and restaurant, The Heath. The space is surreal - a live jazz band plays throughout dinner, and a smoke machine pours out a light fog that feels ripped straight from a Twin Peaks-style dream sequence. A stiff one or two helps sell the feeling that you're in a different world, and this beverage, which is like a Manhattan made with applejack, is a solid offering for the boozers in the bunch.

    542 W. 27th St.; 212-564-1662

  • Credit: Clay Williams

    The Royal PalmsRoyal Daiquiri

    The Ingredients: Duquesne Rhum Agricole, Merlet Creme de Mure, lime and pineapple juice, banana syrup

    Reasons to Sip: A few rounds of shuffleboard are made more fun (and potentially more wobbly) at this just debuted Brooklyn watering hole, which takes inspiration from sunny Florida for its beverage selection. This take on a classic daiquiri is amped up with blackberry liqueur - summer may seem like a distant speck on the horizon, so this is the next best thing.

    514 Union St.; 347-223-4410

  • Credit: Clay Williams

    Narcissa's Pink Lady 

    The Ingredients: Gin, grenadine, egg whites and brandied cherries 

    Reasons to Sip: This archaic classic is brought back to life by the bartenders at chef John Fraser's new restaurant in The Standard East Village. To build the drink, the mixologist dry shakes the egg to get some nice froth in the glass, and then adds the other ingredients along with some ice. The result is a smooth, silky texture that makes the gin go down faster than you can say, "Another round, please." Bonus points for the delicious brandied cherries that garnish the glass.

    21 Cooper Sq.; 212-228-3344

  • Credit: Clay Williams

    Fung Tu's Negroni

    The Ingredients: Dorothy Parker Gin, sweet vermouth, Suze

    Reasons to Sip: Negronis are the trendy drink du jour, and this Chinese-American restaurant on the Lower East Side is playing around with the classic formula by nixing the Campari in favor of Suze, an aromatic French aperitif that's flavored with the gentian plant. This hooch recently became available stateside, and you won't find a lot of bars playing around with it yet, especially not in this quantity. You have to enjoy bitter drinks to knock this drink, which is full of distinct herbal and grassy notes, back. Will it replace the normal Negroni in the cocktail oeuvre? Nah - but it provides a nice change of pace for a fatigued palate.

    22 Orchard St.; 212-219-8785