Back in 1999, the opening of a few modern-day speakeasies ushered in the new Golden Age of Cocktails with a whisper as New Yorkers, seeking a more elevated drinking experience traded intel in hushed tones on where to find and how to gain entry into these spots.
As bartenders morphed into mixologists, the cocktail craze took off—among the relatively few drinkers who were in the know. That is, until 2003, when Julie Reiner opened the Flatiron Lounge. Even as the Flatiron pushed the industry in more inventive directions, focusing on a chef-like approach to bartending emphasizing fresh, seasonal ingredients and house-made infusions for syrups, Reiner never lost sight of her mission to elevate the drinking experience for everyone, not just the cocktail cognoscenti.
Running Bars Like a Boss
The runaway success of the Flatiron proved that a bar could serve a high volume of clientele without sacrificing quality and style. Reiner also proved that the craft cocktail movement had legs, as the scene exploded. In 2008, Reiner opened the Clover Club in Brooklyn and in 2013 it was named Best American Cocktail Bar at the prestigious Tales of the Cocktail, where Reiner was also named Best Bar Mentor. Just this month, Reiner partnered with bartending rock star Ivy Mix to open Leyenda, just across Smith Street from Clover Club. Look for more on that bar in a later post.
Staying true to her egalitarian approach to cocktails, Reiner has written her first book The Craft Cocktail Party: Delicious Drinks for Every Occasion ($26, Grand Central) , in which she translates the art of making great drinks for the rest of us, not just the cocktail nerds. This should be the go-to book for anyone looking to elevate their home entertaining experience. Through beautiful photos by Daniel Krieger and easy-to-follow recipes and instructions, Reiner teaches you how to whip up beautiful and tasty cocktails for a few or a crowd— even if your idea of making a drink is opening a bottle of beer.
So just how quick and tasty are Reiner’s drink recipes? Here’s her take on a Bloody Maria that will become your go-to:
Maria sin Sangre
Excerpted from The Craft Cocktail Party: Delicious Drinks for Every Occasion by Julie Reiner with Kaitlyn Goalen
Think of this drink as a Bloody Mary on the fly. Forget the canned tomato juice; here, the freshness of summer’s favorite fruit is muddled directly into the drink.
6 cherry tomatoes
6 basil leaves
1⁄2 ounce simple syrup
2 ounces blanco tequila (I recommend El Tesoro)
1⁄2 ounce dry sherry (I recommend Williams & Humbert medium-dry)
1⁄2 ounce lemon juice
Pinch salt and pepper
Garnish | 1 cherry tomato and 1 basil leaf
In the bottom of a shaker, muddle the tomatoes and basil in the simple syrup. Add the tequila, sherry, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and shake with ice until chilled. Doublestrain through a fine-mesh sieve into a coupe glass.
To create the garnish, pierce a small hole in the top of the tomato and insert the stem of the basil leaf like a flag. Make a slit in the bottom of the tomato and perch the tomato on the rim of the glass.
To make this drink in larger yields, pulse the tomatoes and basil in a food processor 5 or 6 times, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve or a piece of cheesecloth and discard the solids.