Anthony Pepe Creates Complementary Cocktails for Gallias Comforting Cuisine

What cocktail pairs with Italian comfort food like Veal Parm and Spaghetti Carbonara? Good question. Generally, one would not associate house made syrups and infusions with a menu equivalent to an old school Sunday family dinner, but Steven and Karen Gallo and Michael Forrest were committed to giving patrons a full experience, from cocktail to cuisine, when they opened Galli in SOHO in Manhattan. To do so, they enlisted the expertise of master mixologist, Anthony Pepe of Denis Franceschini and Hassan El Garrahy’s Bar Italia. Pepe’s attention to his audience and exceptional pairing techniques and approach, coupled with Galli’s extensive list of high quality rare spirits and fresh ingredients stir up a winning combination.

Pepe’s pairing abilities can be contributed to the seasonal and fresh ingredients he uses to enhance the flavors and flair of each dish. “Freshness of ingredients is key,” says Pepe. “We like to use organic and local ingredients. Cocktails today use so many unique herbs, spices and fruits that it forces you to take a culinary approach because prior to this, most of these ingredients were only used for cooking and eating. Syrups are imperative because they do so many things for a cocktail, besides sweetening they also provide texture and of course flavor, the possibilities are endless!”

Pepe’s intent is to sync up with the Italian comfort food served at Galli. He puts thought into each ingredient, each stir, shake, syrup, and garnish to fuse together drinks for the menu. “A lot of Italian dishes are light and elegant so you want to be careful to not over power the food with a cocktail,” remarks Pepe.

Pepe has single handedly crafted Galli’s cocktail menu, which includes signature cocktails such as Daria’s Melons with fresh watermelon, Campari, Bombay Sapphire and pink peppercorn, Lansky featuring Rittenhouse Rye, Aperol and Ramazotti and Mystical Grape that uses Plymouth Gin, St. Germain, fresh lemon, muddled grapes and sage. When asked which could be considered a fan favorite, Pepe notes that the Lansky is always a hit. “It pairs so well with everything and it's very drinkable because it goes down smooth. It’s the kind of drink you can have all night long.” Other favorites include the Lazy Susan with Grappa, fresh lemon, honey syrup and grapefruit bitters, Pepe’s Negroni (a personal favorite of his) with Plymouth gin, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, Campari and an orange twist and Sara’s Wakeup Call that combines Corsair vanilla vodka, Stone Barn coffee liqueur, chilled espresso and Cynar.

Most recently, Pepe’s creative and delicious delight, Lili’s Curves was featured at the Spirits of Mexico Festival’s 10 year anniversary in New York City, which combines Esplon Silver with fresh lime, black pepper infused simple syrup, purated strawberries and orange bitters.

So what’s it like keeping up with and pleasing what could be arguably the most difficult audience: New York City?  Pepe comments “The New York audience is so educated and knowledgeable when it comes to cocktails because there are so many great cocktail bars in the city.” He adds “You can never go wrong with a combination of both the classic cocktails which never die, but the city is also known for creating new styles and trends.”

Visit Galli this summer to experience delectable cuisine and Pepe-perfect cocktails. .

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