There’s a reason you wouldn’t crave a Hot Toddy in Puerto Rico or a Pina Colada in Ireland. More than just a means of getting tipsy, cocktails and other libations are shaped by a place’s local climate, history and culture. So what better way to get a taste of a far-away land than through their favorite boozy beverage. If you’re in need of a mini escape this summer - and can’t manage to leave NYC - here are three cocktails to help you take an inner sojourn to Europe.
France: Lavender Piscine at Sel Rrose
On the corner of Bowery and Delancey, inside an unassuming concrete building, you’ll find Sel Rrose, an oyster and cocktail bar named after Rrose Selavey, the female alter ego of artist Marcel Duchamp. This spot, which has chic industrial touches, feels vaguely Parisian in a completely unexpected and uncontrived way. All of the cocktails are exquisite, but the Lavender Piscine is my favorite and is truly summer in a glass. Presented in an oversized pool-like goblet, it features a large lavender-infused ice cube that chills the mixture of champagne, herbes de Provence syrup and grapefruit bitters. In winter, it’ll instantly conjure thoughts of lazy days in Provence - and in summertime it may even inspire you to book a last minute flight to Nice. Bon voyage!
Italy: Frozen Negroni at Alta Linea
Based at the High Line Hotel and cleverly named Alta Linea (or “high line” in Italian), this outdoor cocktail bar, itself, feels like a secret European garden - one that characters in a Richard Linklater film might stumble upon and have deep conversations about life and love. It’s so serene, in fact, that you’d never know that you’re sitting right on a very busy 9th Avenue in Chelsea. Alta Linea serves a bunch of aperitivo cocktails made with Italian Amaris - but is best known for its Frozen Negroni. Powerfully refreshing and deceptively strong! Too many of these bevies will have you jetting down 9th Ave on the back of the first Vespa rider you see.
England: Ginger Shandy at the Wren
The first time I had a proper Shandy it was 4pm in London on a beautiful sunny day - the kind of “summer Friday” that may seem commonplace in NYC; but amidst the concrete skies of the UK (and Amsterdam, where I was living at the time), something to be savored. Pubs spilled over with sun revelers in business suits and unbuttoned collars, women donning bare legs and strappy sandals - everyone eager to start the weekend. In NYC’s East Village, the gastropub The Wren uses ginger to put a spicy spin on the traditional Shandy, which is typically made with beer and fizzy lemonade (though mixing it with ginger ale is not uncommon). Not only is it invigorating on a hot day, but this delicious fusion of flavors - east meets west - also seems like an apropos antidote to those Brexit blues.
Maybe now more than ever, we need to celebrate the best of Europe with a toast. #bettertogether