Category Archives: Drink

Rockaway Beach’s New Wave

A red and white bullseye beach umbrella at Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York.

One of my favorite parts of summer is taking the ‘A’ train out to Rockaway Beach in Queens.

I love watching the huge waves continuously crash against the shore and seeing all the surfers who come to ride them. It’s a relaxing escape from the city without even leaving its limits.

The weather today was slightly overcast and a bit chilly, but as you can see, that didn’t stop people from enjoying the Rockaway’s charms.

People crowd the beach on a Wednesday afternoon at Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York.

A man builds a sand castle along Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York.

Typically I pack a little lunch for myself since most of the concessions usually involve fluorescent yellow cheese or dirty water hot dogs.

This year, however, the boardwalk at Rockaway Beach has been taken over by some of the best vendors in the city.

Blue Bottle Coffee along the boardwalk at Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York.

San Francisco-based Blue Bottle Coffee opened up shop at Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York, for summer 2011.

Blue Bottle's drip coffee at their Rockaway Beach, Queens, location.

I was particularly excited when I heard that San Francisco-based Blue Bottle Coffee was setting up a beachfront shop. Their New Orleans-style iced coffee is the most perfect drink for the beach.

Caracas at Rockaway Beach serves up arepas, micheladas and more.

They share their airy space with the East Village empanada joint Caracas. Caracas is serving up arepas and tangy micheladas in addition to bean and cheese or fish empanadas.

A michelada from Caracas at Rockaway Beach.

Just a few doors down is Rockaway Taco, the vendor who started this Rockaway revitalization.

Rippers at Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York

Rippers, a Rockaway Beach collaboration between Brooklyn's Roberta's and The Meat Hook.

One of our favorite restaurants has even been sucked into the surf, so to speak.

Roberta’s has teamed up with The Meat Hook to open Rippers, a surf shop meets burger joint that serves up twisted takes on concessions of yore. Go here for your hot dogs, but they won’t be rotating on a rusty grill all afternoon.

If you get a chance to head out that way, don’t forget your appetite along with your sunscreen.

– Ryan

A cook at Rippers in Rockaway Beach, Queens, prepares fresh French fries.

A surfer holds his surf board at Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York

 A "Fish Boat" from Motorboat and the Big Banana

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A Fourth of July Treat From Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls

Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls, located at the corner of Charles Street and 7th Avenue in Manhattan's West Village, serves up New Orleans-style shaved ice..

As we were trying to beat the summer heat today, Laura and I were desperately seeking somewhere cool and refreshing.

Twitter came to our rescue when we saw that Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls—one of our neighborhood’s newest shops—was open today.

The interior at the West Village's Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls.

Located at the corner of Charles Street and 7th Avenue in the West Village, Imperial Woodpecker serves New Orleans-style shaved ice in almost 40 flavors. We tried tried the ultra-refreshing Mojito flavor, but old favorites like Tiger’s Blood and Dreamsicle are also on the menu.

The shop may be small, but it’s big on charm—floor-to-ceiling windows compliment a cheery color scheme and relaxed feel. It’s even run by two Southern gals, one from New Orleans, and one from Georgia. Perfect.

Serving up New Orleans-style shaved ice at the West Village's Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls.

We recommend stopping by tonight before going to watch fireworks. (At the High Line, perhaps?) If you stop by between 7-9 p.m., they’ll have live music and cool treats!

Hope you’re having a fantastic holiday!

– Ryan and Laura

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Greenmarket Cocktails, Take Two

Cherries, Gooseberries and Chamomile

We had so much fun mixing up a few greenmarket cocktails last week that we decided to do it again.

But, this time, a caveat: one of Ryan’s co-workers said that all of our drinks were too girly (hi, Graham!) and requested that we make more “manly” drinks this time around.

I didn’t think any of last week’s drinks were particularly feminine—okay, maybe lavender is a little too “ladies who lunch”—but we aim to please, so this week we broke out the bourbon and mezcal and got to work.

Gooseberries

This week’s cast of characters: fresh gooseberries from Kerran Farms in New Jersey, cherries from Locust Grove Fruit Farm in Milton, New York, and fresh chamomile.

The first drink we mixed ended up being our personal favorite. In fact, we made another one later in the evening and will probably keep drinking it throughout the summer. We’re calling it a Summer In Manhattan.

Summer In Manhattan Cocktail

First, muddle 5-6 cherries with a 1/2 tsp. superfine sugar and a 1/2 oz. of freshly-squeezed lemon juice. Then, add 1 oz. of Luxardo Maraschino, 2 oz. of bourbon (we used Bulleit Bourbon), a dash of Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla bitters. (P.S. you can get them here!)

Cherries, Gooseberries, and a Cocktail

Shake vigorously and served in an old-fashioned glass, preferably with a big ‘ol sphere of ice and garnish with a lemon twist.

The cherries were much sweeter than anticipated so we tweaked this drink a few times until we perfected it. The final product (the above recipe) is a perfect balance—the overly sweet cherries are complemented by the oaky smoothness of the bourbon and the cherry bark bitters added an entirely new dimension. (Of course, I still can’t get over the drink’s carmine hue. I thought my hands would be stained with cherry juice for weeks!)

Next up: gooseberries!

You’re probably wondering a) what is a gooseberry, and b) what can you do with a gooseberry?

They have the texture of a grape, the interior appearance of a more-solid passionfruit, and the flavor of a slightly less sweet raspberry. Now you’re even more confused, I’m sure. Apparently you can make all sorts of tasty jams and jellies with them, but that didn’t sound nearly as fun as mixing them into a cocktail.

Gooseberry Cocktail

I kept it pretty simple with this drink. I initially wanted to do a take on a paloma, but gooseberries are such a strange ingredient that I didn’t want to overwhelm the palate with gooseberries, lime, and grapefruit.

I muddled six little gooseberries (Ryan pointed out that they look like little striped beach balls!), then added a 1/2 oz. of lime juice, 1/2 oz. of simple syrup, 1/2 oz. of St. Germain and a 2 oz. of Fidencio Clásico mezcal. Shake, strain and serve in a coupe, garnished with a lime wheel and a spare gooseberry.

When I went to buy the mezcal at Astor, I actually had the opportunity to meet Arik Torren, the chief operating officer of Fidencio Mezcal. Arik was hosting a tasting of all three of Fidencio’s mezcals and offering tastings of a few different cocktails made with them.

All of Fidencio’s mezcals are “sin humo,” or without smoke, which produces a lighter, smoother mezcal than some others on the market. I initially went into Astor to purchase another brand of mezcal, but after trying all three varieties of Fidencio, I was sold.

Gooseberry Cocktail

The finished product, which we’re calling La Grosella (gooseberry in Spanish), was similar to a margarita, as you would expect, but the mezcal added more depth than just a regular bottle of agave tequila would have. The gooseberries complemented the elderflower notes in the St. Germain, while the lime added a perfect citrus kick at the end of the palate.

I think this drink would be particularly good in a larger scale—perhaps in a pitcher at a barbecue? (If you host, I’ll make it.)

Finally, the chamomile.

The chamomile was a total impulse buy at the Union Square Greenmarket the other day.

We were down to our last dollar when I saw it and knew it was a must-get. A must-get for what, I didn’t know, but the ropy, fragrant vines sold me right away.

I made a few different drinks with it, but I ultimately decided it works best in a Tom Collins or Gin Fizz-type drink, and thus, the Chamomile Fizz was born.

Chamomile Fizz Cocktail

I coarsely chopped the chamomile, blossoms and all, and muddled it with a 1/2 oz. of sugar and a 1/2 oz. of lemon juice. Then, I added 2 oz. of gin. We used Plymouth again here, but Hendrick’s would really be fantastic, if you have it. Then, add an egg white to the shaker.

Shake, strain, and serve in a Collins glass. Top with soda and garnish with more chamomile.

If you shake vigorously enough (which you always should!), you should have a beautiful white, foamy head after topping with the soda. Ours almost looked like cream!

Chamomile Fizz Cocktail

This drink, despite the feminine ingredient, was quite possibly the most manly of the bunch! The chamomile was incredibly earthy and played so well with the botanicals in the gin. It also remained subtle and not too sweet. It was a great drink to sip slowly, even after the enthusiastic foam had subsided.

We were quite pleased with this batch overall. If the market agrees and offers more fun bounty, we’ll be mixing even more creations up next week.

– Laura

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Cocktails, Fresh from the Market

Strawberries, Lavender and Basil

On Wednesday night, Ryan and I decided to make a few cocktails with some ingredients from my office.

Yes, you read that right: my office. Luckily for me, Hearst Tower’s Cafe 57 hosts a greenmarket every Wednesday, featuring produce from local New York and New Jersey farmers.

Fresh Greenmarket Lavender

As you may know, I go crazy for the greenmarket as it is, so having one in the cafeteria of a 46-story office building is particularly exciting to me!

That’s why when I saw fresh lavender, basil and strawberries, I scooped them up right away! I admittedly didn’t know what I would do with my new treasures, but as I was sitting at my desk, the scent of lavender wafting into my nostrils, my mind wandered to cocktails.

Strawberries, Lavender and Basil from the Greenmarket

And then I knew: cocktails with ingredients fresh from the farmers themselves! Yum!

Ryan was obviously a willing partner, so we got to work on Wednesday evening, mixing and imbibing.

Live Basil Gimlet Cocktail

First up: a live basil gimlet, from the New York Times‘ Summer Drinks feature.

For this drink, from Scott Beattie’s Spoonbar in Healdsburg, Calif., we muddled five large basil leaves with 1 1/2 ounces of gin, 3/4 ounces of freshly-squeezed lime juice, and a 1/2 ounce of simple syrup.

Shake, then strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a basil leaf. Delish!

Deutsch 75 Cocktail

Our second concoction was a creation of our own. We named it the Deutsch 75—a riff on the classic French 75, one of Ryan’s all-time favorite drinks.

While the classic French 75 is topped with champagne, we grabbed a sweet Riesling instead. Note that your choice of Riesling doesn’t need to be expensive—a bottle in the $10 range is just perfect for this refreshing summer tipple.

Deutsch 75 Cocktail

To try our Deutsch 75, take five or six fresh strawberries and muddle with 2 ounces of gin, 1 teaspoon of superfine sugar, and a 1/2 ounce of lemon juice.

After shaking and straining, pour into a chilled champagne flute and top with Riesling. Garnish with a sliced strawberry and another strawberry in the glass, if you wish.

Our berries were from Berried Treasures, located in Cooks Falls, New York. These berries were the small, sweet variety, rather than the large, mass-farmed kind, so I definitely recommend seeking out berries from a local farmer, if at all possible. You’ll taste the difference.

Purple Pilot Lavender Cocktail

Lastly, we modified a little bit (actually, a lot!) on one of our classic favorites, the Aviation. We’ve named our new creation the Purple Pilot.

For this drink, I chopped up a handful of the lovely lavender blossoms you see above, allowing them to release their aromas and oils. I muddled these blooms with 2 ounces of gin, an ounce of simple syrup, a 1/2 ounce of Crème Yvette, and 3/4 ounce of lemon juice.

(As a side note, Crème Yvette is a very old spirit that just recently returned to the market; it can be tough to find. You can order it from Astor Wines & Spirits, or, if you can’t find it, you can substitute Crème de Violette.)

After shaking and straining these ingredients in a Collins glass, I topped with soda and garnished with some fresh lavender blossoms. By the way, don’t you love our metal spoon straw? Our favorite bar, Little Branch, sells them for just $3 each.

Each drink was delicious, but yet simple enough to let our fresh ingredients shine through. I can’t wait to see what next week’s market brings. (I’ve got my eye on you, watermelon radishes!)

By the way, are you following us on Twitter yet? We’d love to get to know you.

– Laura

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Sunday Brunch at Peels

Peels Restaurant on the Bowery

During our recent visit to the Hester Street Fair Summer Picnic, we thoroughly enjoyed a s’mores cupcake from Peels on the Bowery.

This tiny little ball of decadence was all the reminder we needed that we still hadn’t stopped by for brunch, even though we’ve enjoyed dinner there.

Peels is the sister restaurant to another perennial brunch favorite, Freemans, known for simple, rustic American cuisine and atmosphere. Luckily for us, Peels doesn’t stray too far from this winning formula.

Inside, the space gives off a country farmhouse feel, with its white pressed tin ceiling and communal tables. Large windows on both floors flood the interior with natural light.

We were seated at the end of the downstairs bar, a long beautifully crafted wooden countertop overlooking a galley kitchen where chefs buzzed around, taking freshly-made biscuits of the oven and preparing milkshakes and other treats.

The menu is full of the same kind of down-home charm as the restaurant—it mostly features Southern-inspired comfort food.

Fried Chicken Sandwich from Peels

Buttermilk Flapjacks from Peels

Laura had a fried chicken sandwich with honey mustard and fries—she says Peels serves the best fried chicken she’s ever had.

I had the buttermilk flap jacks served with blackberry compote on top. The pancakes were perfectly crispy around the edges while the compote provided a sharp contrast to their buttery texture.

Gypsy Rose at Peels

Laura completed the Southern theme with a Gypsy Rose cocktail—sloe gin, cherry heering, topped with champagne—which was refreshing and had a nice sanguine tint.

Rather than my usual coffee and brunch cocktail I instead opted for one of Peels’ leaded milkshakes. The Coffee Rum Affogato was a creamy blend of rum, espresso, and ice cream served in a charming little milk bottle.

Leaded Milkshake at Peels

We were already big fans of Momofuku Milk Bar’s adult milkshakes, but thought this one tasted creamier and packed more of a punch.

Since we enjoyed the aforementioned s’mores cupcake so much, we decided to try another one of pastry chef Shuna Fish Lydon’s creations.

(It’s worth noting that Shuna, in addition to being a kick-ass chef, is also a great blogger and photographer herself.)

Blackberry Eton Mess Fool at Peels

We opted for the blackberry Eton mess fool—an old British standby, made with fresh blackberries, meringues and cream, only Shuna’s version was topped with an almost-effervescent mint ice cream. Incredibly refreshing and palate-cleansing.

We can’t wait to return on a hot day for another leaded milkshake, perfect for enjoying at the bar as sunlight and laughter fills the dining room. Now if only they’d install a porch swing out front…

– Ryan

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