Upper East Side
Photograph: Filip Wolak
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Posted: Tue Apr 29 2014
One part gin, one part vermouth and one part Campari—that storied trifecta constitutes the classic Negroni, an-early-20th-century Florentine invention turned ubiquitous cocktail-bar darling. The red-as-a-rooster quaff is the litmus test of a good bartender, seemingly simple but particularly finicky, with its delicate marriage of bitter, sweet and boozy. This dimly lit Yorkville drinkery—from Bathtub Gin alum Josh Mazza and Steve Laycock of Ducks Eatery—doesn’t pour out just one dynamite rendition of the boot-country creation: It turns out six.
ORDER THIS: The Negroni variations ($14) range from formalist—the house signature features Spring 44, Punt e Mes and Campari—to flippant, using the original as a mere template and subbing in liquors and bitters with abandon: The rye-and-walnut-spiked Nutcracker is as toasty as Christmas night, while the Oaxaca gets its smoky bite from 40-day oak-aged mescal, stepping in for gin.
GOOD FOR: A sip of high-wire cocktail culture in the bar-parched Upper East Side. Amid the nabe’s run-of-the-mill beer-can saloons, the 40-seat lair—decorated with Art Deco chandeliers and red brocade wallpaper—tufts a piña colada–margarita hybrid with a coconutty cloud of tech-geek “salt air” ($14) and vacuum-seals chocolate-banana juleps into individual packets ($14).
THE CLINCHER: Cocktails aren’t the whole story: Behind the copper-topped bar lies the custom Hoppinator, the latest in a growing line of NYC draft-line gadgetry (see also the flux capacitors at Tørst and Clinton Hall). Hooked up to the taps, the suds system can adjust a beer’s hops to amp up its flavor and intensity. Pocket that cab fare, uptowners—with beer and cocktails this crafty, you won’t have to trek down below 14th Street to quench your thirst.—Christina Izzo
The Gilroy 1561 Second Ave
Upper East Side