The Summit Bar
Come for the experimental cocktails and a good vibe in Alphabet City.
Mon Jan 18 2010
The Charmane's Star
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
In a rebuttal to the clandestine posturing that defines the city's cocktail revival, no secret buzzer is needed to enter the Summit Bar, invitingly located behind open venetian blinds in Alphabet City. Greg Seider, who designed Minetta Tavern's cocktails, is the mixologist behind this democratic lounge for serious drinkers, handsome with blue-velvet banquettes, a black-granite bar and chandeliers turned low. The drinks are presented in two categories: "Classic" features spot-on standards, including an old-fashioned owing its peppery kick to Rittenhouse Rye, and a whiskey sour bright with fresh lemon juice, while "Alchemist" highlights Seider's creative impulses. We were smitten by the whiskey-driven Gov'ner, in which Japanese yuzu and orange juice are rounded out by aromatic, cardamom-infused agave syrup. The Charmane's Star is a surprisingly spicy mix of vodka, Vietnamese-cinnamon--infused agave and muddled cucumber, shiso leaf and fresh lime on ice. As much as Seider's inventiveness pays off, it can also go off the rails. The hickory-salt--rimmed Ground to Glass (a play on the phrase farm to table), comprising tequila, red-pepper puree and cucumber, tasted like barbecue-flavored V8. And the She Loves Mei She Loves Mei Not, while frothy and light, was overly perfumed with muddled Ecuadoran rose petals and Szechuan-peppercorn--infused agave. Too many ingredients, premium though they are (there are also choice snacks, such as Niman Ranch pastrami and nutty Ossau Iraty cheese), can spoil the mix. Nonetheless the bar's accessibility and willingness to experiment set it apart from the crowded cocktail field—no password required.—TONY