The Five Best Cocktails in Westchester
Our food writer endeavors to find her favorite drinks in the county
368 Main St, Armonk
According to Stephen Paul Mancini, Restaurant North’s co-owner (and noted cocktail geek), the Grazie Maria is named to honor Maria Scala, who, in 1845, invented the secret recipe for Fernet Branca, a bitter, aromatic spirit of grape alcohol flavored with more than 40 herbs and spices, including myrrh, rhubarb, chamomile, cardamom, and saffron. Scala’s name became Branca through marriage, and the product’s name was born. Branca Menta is the “mint alternative” to trendy Fernet Branca. Old Tom Gin is another history-based libation. Peaking in popularity in the early 1800s, the sometimes slightly-amber Old Tom differs from modernity’s standard “London dry” gin in that its style stresses different botanical flavorings. Plus, it’s lightly barrel-aged and sweetened.
Mancini recommends his cocktail to negroni drinkers. “It’s sharp and flavorful, and made in a classic cocktail style; it’s a firm drink, but amazing!”
2 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth (any blanc vermouth can be used, but Dolin is preferred)
1 oz Hayman’s Old Tom Gin (if you can’t find an Old Tom gin, use Plymouth Gin and then add ½ oz simple syrup to the
½ oz Branca Menta
Combine all ingredients in a martini shaker with ice and stir intensely. (You know when to stop stirring when the outside of a metal martini shaker has frost on it.) Once you are confident that all ingredients are well mixed, strain into a martini glass. Garnish the drink with a grapefruit twist: twist it over the drink and drag it along the rim of the glass before dropping it into the finished cocktail. This step is often overlooked; the essential citrus oils in the grapefruit rind add a depth of flavor to the cocktail when done right.
64 Main St, Tuckahoe
This brand-new Tuckahoe hot spot from Chef Rafael Palomino and his longtime GM at Sonora, Alexander Vanegas, dares to unite the undeniable pleasures of classic Spanish tapas with the charms of Latino cocktails. Sure, you could get a margarita, but why bother when you can get a Chupacabra? Named for a mythic South/Central American blood-drinker, it offers tequila, lime, cucumber, mint, and Tapatio Hot Sauce.
Village Social Kitchen & Bar
251 E Main St, Mount Kisco
(914) 241-6260; villagesocialkb.com
Wood is the way, according to Village Social mixologist and General Manager Sean Maloney. He’s got two cask-aged cocktails mellowing behind the buzzy Mount Kisco restaurant’s bar as we speak. There’s a Manhattan made with Michter’s Rye, Carpano Antica, and Cherry Heering that Maloney finishes before serving with Fee Brothers Cherry Bitters. According to Maloney, six months of aging makes this brawny drink velvety smooth, while the oak imparts a subtle, almost-toasty character. For those who are less inclined toward brown, there’s Maloney’s Soul Power: Hendrick’s Gin, Yellow Chartreuse, poire William, and Crème Yvette, a 19th-century liqueur made from violet petals, strawberries, blackberries, and other flavorings. Once decanted, the Soul Power gets some crispness from Fever-Tree’s tonic water, and a bit more fruit from Fee Brothers Plum Bitters. According to Maloney, the result is “floral and slightly medicinal” (in a good way).
1 Willett Ave, Port Chester
(914) 937-8226; bartaco.com
Wine & Spirits Director Gretchen Thomas is Barcelona Restaurant Group’s beautiful and talented wunderkind. She’s responsible for the killer Spanish wine list that’s won Barcelona countless oenophilic admirers. Last year, Thomas turned her hand to mixology, and it’s no surprise that the results were magical. Our favorite sipper from the Group’s bartaco is the leathery Smoky Cholula: Sombra mezcal, guava nectar, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. We’re big fans, but if bartaco’s buzzy noise and crowd don’t move you, you can usually take your Smoky Cholula outside on the deck and drink it, warmed by fire pits overlooking the sleepy Byram.
Harvest on Hudson
1 River St, Hastings-on-Hudson
(914) 478-2800; harvest2000.com
For a drinks spot, Harvest is as lush as it gets. The restaurant’s dense herb and vegetable plantings make for outdoor lounging nooks, while a long wraparound patio yields plenty of riverside room for drinkers. In fine weather, look for throngs inside and out, and a long, Mediterranean-based wine list, plus perfectly on-season cocktails like the Patrónita: Patrón Reposado, VeeV Açaí Spirit, fresh lime juice, jalapeño, and cilantro.