Wine & Spirits

By Meredith Clinton Bell

Spring is a time for rebirth when it comes to flowers, fashion, and of course…cocktails. Lucky for us, New York City is home to some of the best cocktail bars around. And their mixologists have been hard at work shaking, infusing, and whipping things together until those just-right cocktails are ready to be delivered.

Their inspiration can strike at a moment’s notice — on that trip to the farmer’s market, a vacation in the tropics, from a special ingredient, or even a diehard classic. No matter what, this season’s new crop of cocktails is light, fresh, flowery…and just plain delightful.

Here are a few sure to tickle your senses like never before:

Garden Variety Margarita

The ever-popular margarita. Been there, done that…right? Wrong. Jason, the co-owner and master mixologist at new East Village bar, The Wayland, stumbled upon this non-traditional treat after attempting a magic cure for the sniffles.

What’s in it? Blue agave blanco tequila, ginger and kale juice (yes, kale juice), lime juice, agave nectar, and smoked sea salt.

The interesting mix of ingredients are obtained locally, and freshly squeezed in house. Certainly a hearty, earthy cocktail, the kale works well with the ginger and tequila.

And though you might not find these unique flavors in any other margarita, after a first sip, you’ll realize how much sense the combo makes.

The Wayland: 700 East 9th Street @ Avenue C; http://www.thewaylandnyc.com

Humdinger

The main inspiration at this 1920s-era speakeasy? Fun. According to co-owner and mixologist, Tad, the cocktails at The Tippler are crafted for the masses, not the few. They pride themselves on their whimsical approach to serious cocktails and are always looking for innovative ways to incorporate new ingredients.

The Humdinger, which is quickly becoming one of their most popular cocktails for spring, is no different.

What’s in it? White and dark rums, grapefruit liqueur, cardamom, hibiscus, and egg whites.

In keeping with the flavors of this exciting season, it has a light, refreshing taste with distinct herbal undertones. Perhaps you’ll enjoy the hibiscus as much as the hummingbirds do. Egg whites finish it off with the beautiful foamy top and act as a throwback to many Prohibition-era cocktails…as well as another fitting springtime ingredient.

The Tippler: 425 W. 15th Street between 9th and 10th Aves; http://www.thetippler.com

Double Agent

This is senior mixologist, Raffaello’s take on the classic James Bond fave, the Vesper. Part of the BR Guest family of restaurants and bars, 675 Bar has the Double Agent on their spring menu for good reason.

What’s in it? Gin, green lavender, vanilla bean and white wine liqueur.

Actual sprigs of lavender soak in the gin for two to three days along with whole vanilla bean pods. The result is a soft, clean taste with a yummy floral component from the lavender and a sweetness from the vanilla.

Green lavender is different than what you might think of as traditional lavender, but it gives this cocktail a wholly unique flavor that keeps your taste buds guessing with every sip.

675 Bar: 675 Hudson Street @ 13th Street; http://www.675bar.com

Self Portrait

And now, we arrive back at the tequila cocktail. The Self Portrait from Elsa is my personal number one, though admittedly, it was tough to choose.

What’s in it? Cilantro-infused tequila, lemon juice, agave, and habanero.

Dreamt up by mixologist, Scott, while vacationing in the Bahamas, all parts of this drink just fall into place. The freshly squeezed lemon juice is an unusual pairing for a tequila cocktail, and with the punch of the habanero, it’s almost too good to be true.

In fact, mesmerizing comes to mind. The initial sip gives you a light, fresh taste, then the peppery habanero hits you at the end. It could just be the perfect kick start to spring.

Elsa: 217 E. 3rd Street between Aves B and C; http://www.elsabar.com

Originally published April 2012
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