Lower Westchester bars/restaurants with quality cocktails
Just moved to Larchmont and am looking for places that make quality cocktails - i.e. good ingredients, proper ratios, not everything is a something-tini.
It would be nice if folks actually gave a description of the cocktails and why they thought they were good. Just saying the name of a place really isn't that helpful. Especially since many folks idea of what a good cocktail is, is based on the 80's, 90's and suburbia 2000's. Not what the OP is asking for.
The bar Mix, at the Crowne Plaza, White Plains is a little known bar, making excellent cocktails. Classics and some mild riffs on classics. The cocktail program was originally created by Jonathan "The Cocktail Guru" Pogash, and then Lead Bartender Jake Sher oversaw the bar for several years. His recipes have been published in several books including gaz regan's 101 Best Cocktails, and the Mr. Boston Cocktail Guide latest edition. He trained up the current Lead Bartender Greg, who also went through a full three month training program at a different location before being offered Lead at the Crowne Plaza.
42 at the Ritz in White Plains has its ups and downs. It really depends upon the bartender, and who is in charge at any moment. Sometimes the cocktails are extremely well made, other times you see them shaking Manhattans.
I did read that recently they got a new head bartender who is doing good things. I'm waiting to hear more, since my last visit really annoyed me with the poor execution of cocktails, while the time before that was a combination of very good and mediocre.
The prices are very high for Westchester.
I remember having a fun champagne cocktail at Barlees in Mamaroneck. They seem to have a decent whiskey selection, and the owner and bartender were very accommodating. Might be worth a try since it's close. They often have live music.
OK, I can't talk opinion about Polpettina Larchmont just some facts, since I was their beverage/bar consultant. One of three restaurant/bars in Westchester I worked with in 2013. I hired and trained all 6 original bartenders, (and bartended when I wasn't training and managing) and curated all the really interesting and unusual spirits, and developed the barrel aged and draft cocktail program, as well as fine tuning classics, and creating the house cocktails. I had nothing to do with the beer, wine, or nonalcoholic beverages.
I didn't get a chance to set up the bar fully, or train the staff up to more than 50% of my usual level, because I was brought on board just a few weeks before the full opening, but after they had constructed the bar; and then I left at the earliest opportunity I that I could.
Over just a few weeks I did have seven articles praising my cocktails, and the beverage program there, in The Journal News, Westchester Magazine, and several online media and blogs.
I haven't been back since I left 12/21/2013, so I don't know how good the cocktails are right now. Hopefully the bartenders stayed true to the strenuous and exacting training that I took them through, and are making the cocktails to the recipes I developed. I think some bartenders may have left after I did, because I have seen them advertising for mixologist level bartenders, most recently just three days ago.
The best cocktail I've had recently was the Sippy Cup at the NoMad in Manhattan... but that won't help you unless you're going into the city. Worth a trip for sure though if you're into cocktails.
I've had a couple of amazing cocktails at the bar at Blue Hill Stone Barns. No need to eat there... just go sit at the bar and imbibe. Very seasonal and market driven.
I enjoy the cocktails at Gleason's in Peekskill, but that's quite a shlep for you and you may as well go into the city.
JMF: I have been reading up on making cocktails and I'm trying to build up my home bar... I'd like to take a class. Any suggestions?
Go to curiousonhudson.com, an education center in Dobbs Ferry and check it out starting in a few weeks. They may be having high level home bartending classes and spirits tasting and appreciation classes, if they can arrange the permits, or get a local bar to help them out.
NoMad, I haven't had the time to make it there yet, but I have several friends bartending and bar managing there. From what I know, amazing cocktails. But as you say, that is NYC, and a completely different world than the 'burbs.
There are so many bars of that quality in NYC, and I have so many friends working them, that I gave up trying to visit them all two years ago. Although I think NoMad sets a record for the most friends I have working in one place. Second for that is probably a six way tie with Dead Rabbit/PDT/Death & Co./Employees Only/Mayahuel/Amor y Amargo.
The best classes in the City are probably at the Astor Center. ICE looks like they may be offering some in-depth professional development courses in barkeeping to add to their wine and spirits offerings, after they get their new beverage facility set up. Anthony Caporale will be teaching / coordinating most of them I expect. Quality will be high for what he does. But they are pricey.
What places were you looking at down there?
I have now attached Meritage's Cocktail menu
Enjoy. stay for the food, as good.
Cognac/ Ferrand orange curaçao/lemon/Demerara syrup/orange bitters
Bourbon/fresh grapefruit juice/honey syrup/grapefruit twist
Bourbon/Cointreau/ Maraschino liqueur/lemon/bitters/orange twist
Rye/raw sugar/ peychaud bitters/absinthe/orange twist
Gin/Maraschino liqueur/Creme de violet/ lemon/lemon twist
House Specialty Cocktails
Vodka/ fresh grapefruit/ simple syrup/grapefruit twist
Vodka/fresh pear juice/St. Germaine
Gin/Maraschino liqueur/green chartreuse/Lillet blanc/lime juice
Creole rum gimlet
Rum/Clement creole shrub/Cointreau/Demerara syrup/lime
Vodka/ pomegranate juice/ cardamom syrup/lemon juice/ lemon twist
Tequila/ginger syrup/ lime juice/ pineapple juice/ hellfire bitters
Bourbon/ginger syrup/muddled lemon
Hudson Valley wheat whiskey/sweet vermouth/ bitters/ cherry
How well do they execute these cocktails? To what bars are you comparing them to in quality?
They are close enough to me that I will have to check them out. But, $14 for cocktails is too high for Westchester. $12 max. is it. Their location doesn't justify the cost.
I have to honestly say that calling a vodka grapefruit sour a Grapefruit Martini turns me off.
Hopefully they don't spell Sazerac that way.
I wonder why they are calling a Manhattan made with Hudson whiskey The Hudson? It's just a Manhattan.
Any recent recommendations? We went to MIX at the Crowne Plaza, and were seriously underwhelmed. Polpettina in Larchmont seems to have done away with the featured chip off the old block ice cube, or had when I went.
Preferences: Sidecar, Old Fashioned, Martini, and Gimlet. In a 5 ounce glass, (not the O/F, obviously) please.