Tag Archives: cocktails

Handcraft Kitchen & Cocktails

I had the pleasure of attending an Instagram influencer event at Handcraft last night, and I have to say: I was super impressed with everything I drank and ate. This place really knows their stuff.

The meal started with some buffalo style deviled eggs, which were absolutely delicious.

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They had the same flavor profile you get from good spicy chicken wings, with a pop of hot sauce.

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Then came our first cocktail: Tokyo Drift. This was made with gin, sake, cucumber, lemon and fizz.

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It was really refreshing and slammable, which was nice to pair with the next part of the meal: Handcraft Nachos.

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These are tots, topped with corn, bean chili, pico de gallo, guacamole, chipotle sour cream and cheese sauce. These “totchos” were absolutely fantastic. You definitely need to start your meal with these when you come here.

Next up on cocktails was the Liquid Lunch: watermelon and strawberry gin, basil, balsamic vinegar and lime.

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This baby was like drinking a salad! So savory yet still with a nice pop of sweetness. I loved it.

We drank that with a killer fried chicken sandwich.

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This is up there with Delaney and Fuku+ in terms of taste and quality. It’s topped with pimento cheese, pickled green tomato and kale, served on focaccia.

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The chicken was so tender and juicy inside, and that cheese acted like a sauce to boot. Awesome.

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The final cocktail was a Bourbon Punch: bourbon, amaretto, southern comfort, orange and pineapple.

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The hard liquor really gets balanced out by the sweetness here, and the fruitiness of the drink went well with the next course: The Game Changer.

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This mountain of meat consists of a bison patty and a wild boar patty. Then it gets topped with duck confit, brie and cherry chutney, served neatly on a brioche bun. Amazing. The cherry chutney almost acts like a cranberry sauce, turning this into the perfect Thanksgiving substitute for those of you who despise turkey.

I highly recommend this place, and they have a great beer menu too.

HANDCRAFT KITCHEN & COCKTAILS
367 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10016

Yerba Buena

My sister told me about this place a while back, and she later got me and my wife a gift certificate so that we’d give it a shot. Specifically, she told me to try the “poquito picante” cocktail, made with gin, cucumber, jalapeno and lime. It was really delicious. It had that heat from the jalapeno, but it was rounded out nicely with the sweetness from the lime syrup and then cooled off with the cucumber. My wife tried the “concoction,” a fresh fruit riff on a classic egg white whiskey sour. We ordered both cocktails at the bar while we waited for our table, and we were happy to learn that all drinks were half price for an all-day happy hour at the bar on Sundays.

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We started with a hamachi ceviche. This was fresh and flavorful, and garnished with sesame seeds and dried, puffed corn. It had a mild flavor and wasn’t too overpowering on the citrus.

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We also shared this trio of fries: hearts of palm, avocado and watermelon.

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These were really interesting. The avocado was super creamy, as expected. The hearts of palm had some starchiness to it, about which we were both a bit surprised. They tasted great though. The watermelon was an even bigger surprise, however. It was sweet, yet savory, and crunchy, yet juicy. It went perfectly with the smokey ketchup that was served with these fries.

For her entree, my wife ordered the Lechon Confitado, which is suckling pig with sunchoke-black truffle puree and kale-red chiles.

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This was the winning dish. The pork was cooked perfectly – like a juicy pulled or shredded pork without the over-saucing that typically occurs at BBQ joints. The confit coking method surely helps in that regard. It was topped with some greens and pickled red onion. The earthy and delicious sunchoke puree was drizzled around the plate.

I intended to order the rib eye that was listen on the menu, but they were out. Instead, they offered me a skirt steak, so I gave that a try.

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It was cooked nicely to medium rare, but just wasn’t up to standard with some of the other places I’ve had skirt recently.

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I’d say this came in at about a six out of ten for a combination of flavor and quality. It was juicy, but did have a bit of bleed-out, and lacked a good sear on the outside.

It was served with an avocado, tomato and onion salad, and some yucca fritters.

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For dessert, we shared the “panqueques,” crepes filled with dolce de leche and served with a scoop of ice cream. The menu said it would be pistachio ice cream, which we were excited about, but they gave us chocolate instead.

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In any case, dessert was delicious. The crepes were made fresh, and the dolce de leche was smooth and creamy.

This is definitely a place worth visiting if you’re in the Alphabet City area and looking for a bite or cocktail.

YERBA BUENA
23 Avenue A
New York, NY 10009

MexiCali Sunset

This refreshing cocktail is super easy to make. Here’s what you need to make it:

  • 1 freshly squeezed clementine (or substitute with orange)
  • 1 packet sugar in the raw
  • 1 bottle of spicy ginger beer
  • mezcal (or substitute with tequila, sotol)

Add all ingredients except the ginger beer into a shaker with ice, and shake it the fuck up. Put as much mezcal in as you want! Pour over ice in a low ball glass. Fill it up between half and three quarters full. Then add ginger beer and stir before serving. Garnish with clementine rind to add a pop of bitter into the otherwise sweet drink, and rub the rind around the rim of the glass to get those citrus oils popping with each sip.

Steak Sauce Martini

I came across an amazing drink that Chef Admir from Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse whipped up for the holiday season. It’s called the Steak Sauce Martini.

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Ingredients

  • 1oz Bourbon
  • 1oz Eggnog
  • 1oz White Chocolate Liqueur
  • 1oz Frangelico
  • 1/4 teaspoon Steak Sauce
  • 1 Strip of Bacon (for stirring)

Directions

  1. Smear the steak sauce on the inside of a chilled martini glass.
  2. In a shaker with ice, add bourbon, eggnog, white chocolate liqueur and Frangelico.
  3. Shake and pour into a martini glass. Garnish with strip of bacon.

If its too much work for you to make at home, then take a trip over to Ben & Jacks to try it out.

Winter is Coming

It’s really simple:

  • 1 part Amaretto
  • 1 part Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Whiskey
  • 1 part Kahlua

Shake up with ice and pour over some rocks. It starts out looking cloudy and light brown, but then it darkens up as it settles. A riff on this if it is too strong is to mix in a little bit of milk, but then the whole dynamic changes.

These were a smash hit on Thanksgiving. I must’ve made a half dozen of them for family members that took a sip of mine and then wanted their own. To me, it tasted like liquid brown sugar. My sister said it tasted like chocolate covered black cherries. My wife said it was a very “Fall/Autumn” drink.

Sweet Cactus

Adding to my repertoire of cocktails made with aloe drink, I went a little deeper into that family of aloe/cactus plant lineage with this mezcal-based drink:

  • 1 part aged mezcal
  • 2 parts aloe drink
  • 1 teapoon agave syrup
  • 1 packet of sugar in the raw
  • a squirt of lime juice

Shake with ice, and serve on ice. Very refreshing.

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Aloe Guvna

Over the last few weeks I’ve been trying to make a dent in some booze that I haven’t touched for a while in the liquor cabinet. I offered to make my wife a cocktail and she said “surprise me,” so I figured I would concoct something new and unique.

I have a LOT of scotch, so that was the first ingredient I picked. I took the lemon juice out, and grabbed a packet of sugar in the raw. But it needed something else. I opened the fridge and saw some aloe drinks. Perfect! It has a lychee-ish, grape-ish, elderflower-ish flavor to it, and a bit sweet but refreshing at the same time.

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So I threw one part scotch, two or three parts aloe drink, lemon juice and sugar into the shaker with some ice and went to work shakin’ that shit. The result was a foggy yellow colored drink that was absolutely incredible!

Strong, sweet, refreshing and unique. You can swap the lemon for lime if you want, and you could add a dash of spicy ginger beer if you have it, or perhaps a splash of cherry juice. I garnished with a cherry.

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Hibiscus Tea Old Fashioned

This is a simple twist on an Old Fashioned that I decided to make with the tail end of a bottle of whiskey and some hibiscus tea that my wife brewed and left in the fridge. Other ingredients include agave syrup, sugar in the raw, lemon juice, lime juice and candied ginger.

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I put some ice, whiskey, sugar, lime juice, lemon juice and agave in a shaker and shook the living fucklights out of it. Then I poured it over an ice sphere (because cubes are for pussies) and garnished with a couple of pieces of candied ginger that I had sitting in the cabinet.

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The result was a great, sour-yet-sweet, tangy take on the classic Old Fashioned cocktail.

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Drink up, meat minions…

Tanner Smith’s

This joint is home to some really excellent cocktails.

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I had been eyeballing the place for a while, and when a buddy was in town and staying at a hotel nearby, we decided to go in.

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Our bartender, Albert, mixed up the absolute, hands-down best Old Fashioned I have ever tasted. On the menu it is called a Winona, and is made with a few flourishes to the standard ingredients, the most impressive of which is its delivery in a smoke infused bottle.

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Watch as the smoke billows out and creates a nose for the drink as you sip it:

I’m not big on the whole “mixology” thing. Mixing drinks is cool but I still call it bartending. Bartending with interesting ingredients doesn’t require a scientific-sounding name. It’s all about pairing flavors, and that’s what any good bar tender should be able to do. Albert is one of those people who takes pride in what he does. He isn’t afraid to try new things and come up with new drinks. I even told him about the Germain Scotsman. His initial reaction was “mixing peaty scotch with anything is blasphemy,” but he embraced the drink with an open mind and found that he actually liked it! It works on many levels.

Anyway, after another visit here for drinks with ANOTHER friend who was in town and staying in midtown, my wife and I finally made it over to try out some of the food.

We started with the scotch eggs. These seem to be made with quail eggs, so the ratio of egg to breading is a bit off. While they tasted really good, had good seasoning and crunch, the egg just got lost a little bit in the breading.

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The dry rub chicken wings had nice flavor. If I had to guess, it was some kind of mild jerk spice rub. Very interesting. Good crunch on the outside and nicely cooked inside, and served with a celery and jicama slaw.

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We also dug into the pork terrine. The meat was a bit more solid than I expected. When stuff like this is served with toast, I expect more of a spreadable texture. The taste was nice, however, and paired nicely with the mustard and jicama, pepper and cabbage slaw.

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Our last savory course was the burger with blue cheese.

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I ordered medium, and that seems about right to me on the inside. Perhaps just a bit over?

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The pickles, bun, lettuce, tomato and cheese were all on point, but the meat was a little grainy in texture. I think maybe the beef was over worked after it went through the grinder to become a patty. It also could have used a bit more seasoning.

Fries were shoestring style – like McDonalds (a good thing).

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For dessert we tried the blueberry upside down cake. This was essentially three small muffin sized cakes served with fresh blueberries (both in the cake and as garnish), tangy orange/lemon curd, whipped cream and basil.

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The flavors worked really well together, and the cake was warm and fresh. Even my wife, a baker, gave it her seal of approval.

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I’ll definitely be back to try a few more items from the food menu, but it seems like the drinks are really the star of the show here. Nicely done!

TANNER SMITH’S
204 W. 55th St.
New York, NY 10019

Hana Ranch Restaurant

I like to call this meal “Mai Tais, Fries and Flies.” The setting is beautiful. The joint is up on a hill and you can see out over the Pacific from way the fuck up high on the cliff where Hana is situated.

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But the flies are aggressive here. They swarm on your drinks and food. It was nearly unbearable.

I sucked down my mai tai fast to avoid them, and quickly ordered a second drink that I drank just as fast.

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We started with garlic herb fries, nori sesame seed fries and fried calamari. All pretty good, though I wasn’t quite sold on the Japanese style French fries (furikake). The calamari was more tentacle than ring, which I was a little bummed about, but they were at least tasty.

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I had Kalbi short ribs – ribs cut cross-section style, thin, and grilled with Korean BBQ sauce. These were pretty good and tasted just as expected.

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My wife had some sub par, stringy ahi poke (raw tuna with dressing and spices – like a ceviche).

My feeling is that this town is in need of a good bar or another restaurant to foster competition. Something with a bold and brazen use of air conditioning, too. It’s as hot as Dante’s balls after his stroll through Hades up there. Humid as locker room ass crack too. It is beautiful though.