The ladies who lunch at Cafe Boulud, the Upper East Side bastion of refinement, have been keeping a secret. The cocktail menu at the sister venue Bar Pleiades, from head bartender Darryl Chan, is as witty and inventive as the food. One of the standouts is the Last Caress, which features Chartreuse and grapefruit granita topped with juniper berries and champagne.
Now, as a rule I never turn down a glass of champers, but I’m here to tell you that this cocktail is just as amazing served as a mocktail, swapping in Fever-Tree Bitter Lemon mixer for the bubbly. And let’s face it—there are those occasions when it’s more prudent to steer over to the less boozy side of the menu. Here, the Fever-Tree adds a clean, not cloying, hit of lemon with the subtle bitterness of quinine (a component of tonic water). The result is a drink that’s pretty in the glass and refreshing on the palate.
Bar Pleiades, in The Surrey Hotel, 2o East 76th Street, New York City
I’m usually a vodka drinker but love mixed drinks. What types of liquors do you suggest I purchase to setup a home bar? Thank you.
Good question! A good home bar should have both clear and dark spirits, that way you can pretty much cover all your bases. If you’re looking for versatility, then gin is a good choice as it’s used in so many classic cocktails. Next I’d go rum. A white rum works in mojitos and daiquiris, dark rum is great for a Planter’s Punch or Dark & Stormy. Tequila is another good choice if you, and the folks you would likely entertain at home, like margaritas. Do yourself a favor and choose a silver tequila made with 100 percent agave–check the label. Sticking with good tequila greatly reduces the likelihood of an epic hangover the next day.
Now for the darks. Having a bottle of cognac on hand keeps you party-ready (Let’s be honest, we all know a few folks who seemed to have sworn a blood oath of loyalty to Hennessy) You can throw ’em a curveball by going with Courvoisier or D’Usse or Remy Martin. Another curveball is to learn to make a few cocktails using cognac, such as a sidecar or brandy milk punch, so your crew can step off the Henny and Coke merry-go-round.
Lastly, I’d add in a bourbon, like Bulleit or Maker’s Mark, to make Manhattans, whisky sours, mint juleps
T I’m of a mind that you should keep on hand what you like to drink. So, if you’re a rum fan or a love tequila