How important are cocktails? Two New York restaurants with culinary approaches that are not usually considered mixology-focused — Bar Basque, which pays homage to Spain’s Basque region, and Hung Ry, dedicated to the art of hand-pulled organic noodles — opened recently with cocktails as part of the mix. At Bar Basque, Terry Zarikian worked with mixologist Roland Csombor of Purple Bar to honor Spanish chefs with Ferran’s Side Car (Cardenal Mendoza Brandy infused with raisin, cinnamon & vanilla, Cointreau and lemon juice) and the Arzak Peach & Saffron Cobbler (peach, Pedro Ximenez sherry, lemon juice and saffron simple syrup). They’ve also installed a “Gin & Tonic List” featuring tonic options (Stirring’s, Q Tonic, Fever Tree Tonic & Seagram’s) and gins categorized by their botanicals; for instance, rosemary and chili in No. 209 and grape in G'Vine Floraison. Hung Ry features craft beers and a cocktail menu designed by owner Amadeus Bogner with combinations such as the Sensha Smash (sensha-infused saké, fresh lemon juice, sugar syrup and mint) and the Grey Flannel (plum wine, darjeeling tea, tangerine jam, garnished with lemongrass).
One new opening — Boston’s Island Creek Oyster Bar with cocktails crafted by Eastern Standard’s Jackson Cannon (pictured) — and new seasonal menus — at Lia’s and the three Chef Geoff restaurants in the Washington, D.C., area, overseen by Elli Benchimol — are worth mentioning. In Boston, Cannon has leapt out with a menu filled with his trademark culinary touches — fennel, bitter orange, salted apple and, a new one on me, late harvest stevia essence. Benchimol’s menu features seasonal fruits, of course — Apple Chutney Martini and Autumn Pear Pisco — and employs lots of infusions (black tea in Dolin Blanc, apricot in brandy, tart cherries in bourbon) and house-made syrups (four spice, citrus, hibiscus).
Serrallés USA, importers of DonQ Puerto Rican rum, has added Esteban Ordoñez as its national brand ambassador and director of mixology. Ordoñez will develop cocktails for national accounts and lounges, conduct staff trainings, appear at trade shows and events and promote the DonQ partnership with the U.S. Bartenders' Guild. Ordoñez entered the business at his grandfather’s bar in San Sebastian, Spain, but his first bartending position was at Tuscan Square in New York. He’s worked for Charlie Palmer at Aureole and developed the cocktail program for Kikuyu restaurant in Madrid. Back in NYC, he worked at Citarella and Atlas restaurant.