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Classics with a Twist
From fresh, exotic fruits to creative heat and foods for garnish, a new generation of daiquiris, Bloody Marys, margaritas, and martinis—and where to get them.
 
BY CARLA SPARTOS
 
The Daiquiri

Julie: The classic daiquiri consists of rum, lime, and sugar, but flavorwise, "you can add everything under the sun," explains Julie. These days expect fresh passion fruit, mango, and guava, as well as exotics like Kaffir limes and Meyer lemons.

Where to get it: Because they use fresh fruit, Julie cites the cocktails at SushiSamba. She also gives props to Asia de Cuba, where rum is the speciality of the house. Among their twists: A giant Tiki Puka Puka bowl made with tropical juices and three kinds of Bacardi.


David and Audrey: Innovation is meaningless if standards are subpar. "One tiki lounge that shall remain nameless just dumped in the ingredients without even stirring it," groans David. Audrey quotes the legendary bon vivant Charles Baker: "Remember please, that a too-sweet daiquiri is like a lovely lady with too much perfume."

Where to get it: David and Audrey both swear by the classic daiquiri at Milk & Honey. "It's the only place I'll order one," says Audrey.


The Bloody Mary

David and Julie: Bloody Marys are "a very forgiving drink," says David, who's tinkered with different hot sauces, as well as vodka steeped in jabañero peppers. Julie is seeing a lot of experimentation with heat (wasabi) and garnish (string beans, grilled shrimp).

Where to get it: For sheer invention, Julie cites the "Bloodless" Mary at Dylan Prime Lounge—chilled vodka infused with horseradish, pepper, and celery seed, served straight up in a martini glass.


Audrey: Although most make theirs with vodka, Audrey prefers gin. "The original Bloody Mary, the 'Red Snapper' was made with gin. I think it's excellent and prefer it to vodka."

Where to get it: "I'm partial here," says Audrey. "Tommy Rowles [the senior bartender at Bemelmans Bar] makes the best Bloody Mary mix I've ever had. And he won't give me the recipe!" she laughs. She likes Rowles's Taittinger champagne–topped speciality, "A Bloody Shame," even better. "It's savory and bubbly at the same time and I friggin' love it."



The Martini

Audrey: The original gin-and-vermouth definition grew to include vodka, and "now it's anything that comes in a v-shaped glass," says Audrey. Martinis used to be a lot smaller, which she prefers, because "you could enjoy it before it got warm."

Where to get it: If you're going to go big, why not go for broke at Dylan Prime Lounge, where you can get a 48-ounce martini glass. "It works," says Audrey, "because it's meant for a bunch of people."


Julie: "The term martini is used more loosely," so Julie gets people drinking gin "by making it more approachable." The Flatiron Lounge now makes a martini mixed with pomegranate, a fruit so popular "people are coming in asking for it."

Where to get it: Julie is a fan of mixologist Jerri Banks, who created the drink menu at Indian-fusion lounge Taj. Try Banks's signature twist, the Juniperotivo, a blend of Junipero gin, lime, mint, and pomegranate molasses.

David: Not all lounges are serving Sex and the City–style "martinis." "There has been some backlash to the chocolate martini movement," says David, who's seeing a return to the gin classic.

Where to get it: David prefers the bar at Peter Luger. "Those old Irish guys know exactly how to do it," he says. "Besides, what else are you gonna drink there?" He also enjoys the "effective and cold" gin martinis at The Roxy Bar on Smith Street, which has "a great punk-rock jukebox."


The Margarita

David: "There's been a lot of innovation in the margarita field over the years," says David, pointing to the old Caramba chain, a Manhattan purveyor of frozen margaritas made with grain-alcohol that proliferated in the late '80s and early '90s, "but now it's high-end monkeying around." That includes fresh herbs like basil.

Where to get it: David enjoyed a basil margarita (it was "a bit too sweet," though) at Dos Caminos, which carries over a 150 varieties of tequila. But remember, "There's no point in using an $80 bottle of tequila in a margarita."


Julie: Her main complaints include frozen fruit and watery drinks, like when a bar recently served her a margarita with the ice it was shaken in. "I've had bad luck with margaritas lately."

Where to get it: Julie concedes that the blood-orange margarita made with fresh fruit at Blue Smoke is up to snuff.


Audrey: "Everything is going into margaritas, from mangoes to rosemary. But I'm a fart, and like the traditional recipe."

Where to get it: According to Audrey, Winston at Zarela's makes "one of the best margaritas in the city."

 
  Drop me a lime: A classic daiquiri at Milk & Honey. (Photo credit: Carla Spartos)

The Daiquiri

Asia de Cuba
• Morgans Hotel, 237 Madison Ave., between 37th and 38th Sts.
(212-726-7755)

Milk & Honey
• 134 Eldridge St., between Broome and Delancey Sts.
(unlisted phone)

SushiSamba
87 Seventh Ave. South, at Barrow St.
212-691-7885
245 Park Ave. South, at 20th St.
(212-475-9377)

The Bloody Mary
Bemelmans Bar
Carlyle Hotel, 35 E. 76th St., at Madison Ave
(212-744-1600)

Dylan Prime Lounge
62 Laight St., at Greenwich St.
(212-334-4783)


Minty fresh: Jerri Banks's Juniperotivo at Taj. (Photo credit: Kate Appleton)

The Martini

Dylan Prime Lounge
62 Laight St., at Greenwich St.
(212-334-4783)

Flatiron Lounge
37 W. 19th St., between Fifth and Sixth Aves.
(212-727-7741)

Peter Luger
178 Broadway, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, between Bedford and Driggs Aves.
(718-387-7400)

The Roxy Bar
144 Smith St., Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, between Bergen and Dean Sts.
(718-802-9686)

Taj
48 W. 21st St., between Fifth and Sixth Aves.
(212-620-3033)

The Margarita
Blue Smoke
116 E. 27th St., between Park and Lexington Aves.
(212-447-7733)

Dos Caminos
373 Park Ave. South, between 26th and 27th Sts.
(212-294-1000)
475 W. Broadway, at Houston St.
(212-277-4300)

Zarela
953 Second Ave., between 50th and 51st Sts.
(212-644-6740)

 
 
 

 

   
 
Updated April 19, 2004