Perfect G&Ts: 11 Top Gin and Tonics to Beat the August Heat

During the mercury spiking summer months and the still steamy early days of autumn, humble gin and tonics are the quintessential heat-beaters. The effervescence lifts you up and the nuanced sharpness of the tonic cuts through the humidity, while a complex arrangement of botanicals works to sooth your frazzled nerves. Here are 11 top gin and tonics that go beyond a simple mixture of Schweppes and Beefeater.

Amada, New York, New York
G&T goes DIY at Amada. Guests pair a variety of gins – such as Gin Mare from Spain and Brooklyn’s Dorothy Parker – with their choice of tonics. To complete the personalization, they choose from an array of garnishes, including lemon, Arbequina olives, fennel, grapefruit, licorice, kumquat, kiwi, and basil. The drinks are served Spanish style in giant goblets. Make a reservation at Amada.

top gin and tonics

Indique, Washington, D.C.
Cocktail crafter Carlie Steiner worked with executive chef K.N. Vinod to create a series of Subcontinent styled sips. One of their greatest collaborations is her tonic infused with housemade garam masala, a customizable mixture of spices used as a seasoning in many Indian dishes. Vinod’s version features cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, coriander seed, star anise, and black pepper, which match up well with the botanicals in gin. The resulting G&T is cooling but still slightly spicy. Make a reservation at Indique.

Top gin and tonics

Zaytinya, Washington, D.C.
The flavors of the Aegean come alive in this creative G&T. The bar team combines rose petal and cucumber-accented Hendrick’s gin with lime juice, cardamom syrup, cooling cucumber juice, and a spice-rich Mediterranean tonic to create a cocktail called the Juniperus. Take a sip, close your eyes, and you’ll swear you’re on a beach on Mikonos. Make a reservation at Zaytinya.

Top gin and tonics

Restaurant Eve, Alexandria, Virginia
Bar star Todd Thrasher spent nine months perfecting his homemade tonic. He infuses the deep brown syrup with cinchona bark powder containing the tonic’s trademark quinine, honey, yuzu, lemongrass, and lavender grown in the restaurant’s garden. The mixer is paired with the tippler’s gin of choice and arrives in a Collins glass. Make a reservation at Restaurant Eve.

Top gin and tonics

Boqueria–Flatiron District, New York, New York
The bartenders place a premium on a tip top, top-notch tonic, so they make their own in-house. The base syrup features cinchona bark for a wallop of quinine, as well as bitter Gentian root, allspice berries, orange zest, lime juice, and cane sugar. Ultimately, the tonic has a rich earthen vibe with spicy undertones and a little bite. Mix it with your choice of gin and then, “Salud!” Make a reservation at Boqueria-Flatiron District.

top gin and tonicsContinue Reading

Shots Shots Shots: Follow These Top Mixologists on Instagram for Better Cocktail Pics

Mixologists of Instagram

Scrolling through your Instagram feed can make you thirsty. That’s because mixologists have flocked to the photo sharing service since it debuted in 2010, using it as a forum to showcase their most striking cocktails, share recipes, and give patrons a virtual peek behind the bar. Here are six top mixologists to follow on Instagram if you’re looking for inspiration on what to drink next.

Melisa Lapido, aka @melis_boozy_cure, of 31 Supper Club, Ormond Beach, Florida

“Garnishing is a passion for me,” says Lapido. “I treat it like adult arts and crafts.”

The results are wow-worthy and usually earn her hundreds of likes. She uses a broad array of techniques to add pop to her potables – from trimming a lemon peel with a ravioli cutter so it becomes lacey to creating unique ice components.

These eye-catching creations have translated into surging bar sales. “It’s amazing how many people come into the bar and tell me they saw something on Instagram that they want me to make,” she says. “Fresh fruit changes daily, so they might not get the exact same thing, but it gives me a sense of their palate.”

Pro Tip: “I like shooting against dark or black backgrounds, because it highlights the colors of the drink.”

Mixologists of Instagram

Rhys Alvarado, aka @rhyseespieces, of Burritt Room + Tavern, San Francisco, California

Rhys Alvarado got on Instagram three years ago to find out what his fellow mixologists were doing and to promote his own work. “If you don’t publicize your stuff, you get lost,” he says. “It’s about keeping the bar relevant in such a dynamic scene with so many openings.”

He has a soft spot for showcasing vintage glassware in his photos, such as antique coupes, Collins glasses with frosted etching, and crystal Old Fashioned tumblers. He’s equally focused on his garnish game, which heavily focuses on fresh fruit. If it’s not perfect, he won’t bother posting the pic. “I saw on a Corona ad the other day featuring a lime with brown edges in it,” he says. “I would be peeved if that was in my Instagram shot.”

Pro Tip: “Don’t post after midnight because no one will see it. I don’t post in the morning either because people aren’t thinking about drinking unless they have a problem. Posting at one or two in the afternoon is great because that’s when people start making plans for the evening.”

Mixologists of Instagram

Jose “Chuck” Rivera, aka @chucktending, of barmini, Washington, D.C.

“Every cocktail is a piece of art,” says Rivera. “People fall in love with a drink visually first.”

To ensure it’s love at first sight, he spends a lot of time working on his garnishes. He aims to use components that are “edible and beautiful,” such as a black olive wrapped in ibérico ham, lavender blossoms, and parsley ice.

Almost every cocktail pic is accompanied by the drink’s recipe because Rivera feels it’s important to share the craft and allow followers to try it at home if they’d like.

Pro Tip: “Playing with colors is really important. I don’t want a red cocktail with a red garnish on a red napkin. That’s too flat. Mix it up.”

Mixologists of InstagramContinue Reading

Who Owns a Dish? A Discussion with Chef Stuart Lane of Spinasse

Who Owns a Dish? A Discussion with Chef Stuart Lane of Spinasse

On an episode of Chef’s Table, Netflix’s docuseries that follows prominent chefs, Grant Achatz recalls a discussion he had with chef Thomas Keller while he was a young cook at The French Laundry. Achatz had created a cantaloupe and caviar gelee dish for the restaurant’s tasting menu and chef Keller liked it and wanted to add it to the menu.

Before incorporating the dish into the menu Keller asked Achatz a question: “If this dish goes on the menu it becomes a French Laundry dish; are you okay with that?” Achatz said yes, as any young cook would, proud of creating something that his mentor deemed worthy enough of serving in his restaurant. The dish was added to The French Laundry’s tasting menu.

Every single restaurant dish starts as an idea from an executive chef or a line cook, who then works on creating that dish. In most kitchens, dishes don’t reach the menu until line cooks, sous chefs, or the executive chef taste the dish and add their opinions. It’s like editing a rough draft of an article. After everyone weighs in, the original chef or line cook that came up with dish makes changes based on the feedback and the process repeats itself. Once the dish is approved by all parties it’s added to the menu or run as a special for the night. That dish is the final draft, the one that gets published and added to the menu.

Except, in writing, finished articles usually include the name of the writer somewhere on the page. On menus, dishes are not credited to the cook who may have originally came up with the idea — instead they’re all lumped under the executive chef’s name. So, who really owns a dish? And in the case of signature dishes that become an important part of a tasting menu (a la Grant Achatz at The French Laundry) who can claim ownership?

Continue Reading

Sweet! 13 Top NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016 Desserts

NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016 kicks off on July 25th and runs through August 19th. Diners can save at hundreds of the city’s best restaurants with three-course $29 lunches and $42 dinners — which include dessert, arguably the best part of any meal. Here we present 13 of our top picks for meal enders sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Banana Pudding at Miss Lily’s
Chef Adam Schop created Miss Lily’s famous, creamy, and decadent banana pudding. It comes layered with freshly cut bananas and delicious vanilla wafers for some added texture. Make an NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016 reservation at Miss Lily’s.

NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016

Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée at David Burke Kitchen
The classic vanilla bean crème brûlée gets a seasonal twist from executive pastry chef Tracy Wilk with the addition of summery strawberry rhubarb jam and lemon thyme cookies. Make an NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016 reservation at David Burke Kitchen.

NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016

Devil’s Food Cake at The Dutch
The name aside, the devil’s food cake from pastry chef Summer Bailey makes us feel positively angelic. Served with an elegant quenelle of vanilla ice cream, it’s a sin to skip this one. Make an NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016 reservation at The Dutch.

NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016

Key Lime Pie at Charlie Palmer Steak
Savor the sweet and sour flavors of this summertime delight. Graham crumb, chantilly cream, and raspberry round things out in this version from executive chef Ryan Lory. Make an NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016 reservation at Charlie Palmer Steak.

NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016

Torta della Nonna at Tarallucci e Vino
This translates to grandma’s cake (and you wouldn’t want to disappoint her — or executive chef Cara Hermanson — by not ordering it). This quintessential Italian specialty is both delicate and delicious, filled with thick custard and topped with pine nuts and a sugary glaze. Make an NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016 reservation at Taralluci e Vino.

NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016

Molyvos Sundae at Molyvos
Executive chef Carlos Carretto gives the traditional ice cream sundae a Greek accent with baklava ice cream, Samos caramel, walnuts, and shredded sesame halva served in phyllo dough. Make an NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016 reservation at Molyvos.

NYC restaurant Week Summer 2016

Chocolate Genoise at The Liberty Room at Aureole
Sponge cake gets an assist from coconut marshmallow and coconut ice cream in chef Renaud Besnard’s spin on this French favorite. Make an NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016 reservation at The Liberty Room at Aureole.

NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016

Sherbet Parfait at STK Midtown
Keep things fresh with this refreshing sorbet trio with a berry compote and almond crumble – perfect for summer indulging, courtesy of executive chef Andy Kitko. Make an NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016 reservation at STK Midtown.

NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016

Maple Syrup Pie at Left Bank
It’s like breakfast for dessert with this ender from chef Laurence Edelman. Slathered in dark amber maple syrup and accompanied with cider cookies and creme fraiche, this Canadian-inspired dessert is always on the menu Left Bank. Make an NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016 reservation at Left Bank.

NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2016Continue Reading