Midtown

A Negroni at Benoit

One of my best friends started drinking Negronis last year, and since I trust her blindly (she’s my best friend, afterall) and know she has great taste, I followed her lead and gave the classic cocktail, which was new to me, a try. Traditionally, a Negroni is one part gin, one part sweet vermouth, and one Campari, with an orange peel garnish. Hailing from 1920s Florence, it’s a bitter drink, perfect before dinner or all night long. Why not?

The best Negroni I’ve had lately came not from an Italian restaurant, but from a classic French bistro: Benoit, Alain Ducasse’s classic, midtown offshoot of the 100-year-old original in Paris. Strong, bitter and refreshing, this cocktail was just right. I don’t know what made it so good — was it an extra splash of Campari or another liqueur? While sipping on this delightful beverage, I decided not to ask the bartender what made it so special. One, he had a very Parisian, no-nonsense attitude and didn’t really look like he was ready to strike up a conversation (which I respect), but two, some things are better left a mystery.

Some Light Reading and Good Thoughts…

…to transport you into the weekend

- It’s the Year of the Dragon, and maybe also the Year of Deviled Eggs:

Year of the Dragon Deviled Eggs (From Monique Truong’s fabulous Ravenous)
- Two places I love, now in one: India in Paris

- An amazing chef and writer, and also a dear friend, Daniel Meyer writes about The Rise and Fall of Twinkies


- The Regal Shake at The Lantern’s Keep, a favorite midtown cocktail joint
(Beverage of Choice at the Lantern’s Keep: The Floradora)

Beverage of Choice: Jasmine Tea Ricky

Jasmine Tea Infused Plymoth Gin and Fresh Lime Juice.

Courtesy of The Campbell Apartment

Out of sight in an attic corner of Grand Central Terminal,The Campbell Apartment is one of the hidden gems of this classically beautiful building. An obvious after-work destination for commuters, this twenties-themed cocktail lounge bears no comparison in both class and convenience. Red leather bar seats, stained glass windows, intricate wood moldings and a giant fireplace holding a giant safe, bring the lounge’s sumptuous interior to life and transport patrons back in time, to the era of its former occupant, 1920s tycoon John W. Campbell.

I’ve been twice, and both times had the Jasmine Tea Ricky. It’s light, refreshing, tangy and just sweet enough. The jasmine tea flavor also makes it unlike any drink I’ve ever had. I love it for happy hour, and love the easy escape to anywhere I’d need to go afterwards.

Beverage of Choice: Floradora

Floradora
Gin, Fresh Raspberry, Lime & Lemon Juice, Ginger Syrup & Club Soda

“Shaken and served tall”

Courtesy of Lantern’s KeepTucked away in the back of the Iriquois Hotel on 44th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues is Lantern’s Keep. The Degas prints hanging on the walls of this this dark and velvety room heighten its elegant ambiance. The cocktails and perfect-sized offering of small plates fit right in. It was love at first sip for me when I tasted my cocktail of choice: the raspberry and gingery delight that couldn’t have been more perfect for the first real hot day of early summer, where dining al fresco was a must (and followed, for me, at Cacio e Pepe in the East Village). 

Read about the Floradora’s history, as well as a few other fabulous and fresh – all fruit juices in the Lantern Keep’s cocktails are freshly squeezed – libations:

http://www.zagat.com/buzz/drinkable-history-lessons-at-lanterns-keep

Cockle-Doodle-Don’t


I didn’t love the Red Rooster. It was good, but I was a little disappointed. I went with my parents, wonderful dinner partners with a knack for getting reservations, (and who, incidentally, like to pick up the bill!).

We got the Fried Yard Bird, the Mac & Greens, and the Blackened Catfish and Black Eyed Peas. We started with Gravlax on toast, which was my favorite, creatively mixing flavors and culinary styles. We finished with Coffee and Doughnuts. Everything was really well cooked and pretty delicious, but I’m afraid there was some seasoning which threw me off- something which I’m sure others appreciate but for which my palate isn’t properly fined tuned. The place also felt a bit factory-like, a habitual problem for restaurants of that size and popularity. I didn’t love it like I wanted to.

I love the concept and was sure I was going to love the food, especially because Aquavit, – Red Rooster chef Marcus Samuelsson’s wonderful Scandinavian restaurant – is one of my favorite restaurants in the city, and August, owned by Mr. Samuelsson, is another fave! Still, I really loved the ambiance and the menu – lexicon, design and offerings – and the staff was extraordinarily friendly. I would really love to return for the Jazz Brunch because, I think, like it’s namesake, the Red Rooster may be at its best in the morning.