In the last year, few new bars have made an impression on us quite like Porchlight. Danny Meyer’s first cocktail bar lived up to everything we hoped it would be, with some of the most inventive and balanced drinks we’ve ever had. Did we mention they also serve Montauk Brew Co? Heading the bar is Nick Bennett, formerly of Booker & Dax but also no stranger to Long Island. “I started bartending at Corner Bar out in Sag Harbor. It’s my uncle’s bar; it’s one of the local spots out there. That’s a Sag Harbor institution.”
We caught up with Nick to figure out which cocktails everyone should have in their arsenal, something a little special to bring out at parties, and he gave us the tips and tricks to pull them off this season:
1. Rhinebeck Cocktail
- 1oz Lairds Apply Brandy
- 1oz Cocchi Americano
- .75oz Suze liqueur
- .25 Williams Pear Brandy
- 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
- Garnish: 1 thin apple slice
“First, whenever making any cocktail it’s always the smallest ingredient up to the largest ingredient. If you make a mistake it’s easier to replace, easier to fix.” Starting with the bitters, add all ingredients into a mixing glass. “With any spirit forward cocktail on the rocks I like to give it a little stir, just to sort of mix all the ingredients together, get the temperature down, and to get the dilution started, so once it hits the ice it’s not a big huge shock.” Pour into an old fashioned glass over ice, and garnish with the apple slice.
- 2oz Jamaican rum
- .75oz honey syrup
- .75oz lime juice
- 4 dashes of Angostura bitters
“This is a Brooklynite. It first appeared on the menu of the Stork Club, a really old New York prohibition bar, super old-school, very classic.” Add the ingredients into a cocktail shaker. “We do a bit of a blend here, but any Jamaican rum works really well. Appleton makes a great Jamaican rum, I like Hamilton; Smith and Cross is really nice.” Add ice and shake it. Strain into a coupe glass.
3. Fireside Chat
- .75oz Bols Genever
- .5oz Becherovka
- .25oz amaretto
- 1 bar spoon of walnut liqueur (about 1/10 of an ounce)
- .5oz water
- 1 orange twist
“It’s one of those things that’s going to stick out in your mind, because you don’t see these anywhere. It’s a challenge for a bartender, bartenders who want to get creative and really nerdy about something, doing something that doesn’t use ice, that doesn’t dilute itself, doesn’t immediately create a temperature for the guest; you have to sort of mimic that temperature some other way, using warm flavors or using cold flavors, something that you would taste and associate with a temperature, as opposed to actually tasting a temperature. It’s a lot of fun.”
Start with a bar spoon of walnut liqueur poured into a wine glass. Add a quarter ounce of amaretto (“I like the Lazaroni”) and half an ounce of Becherovka, a Czech liqueur that “tastes like Christmas. No other way to describe it.” Add the Bols Genever, and finally add some water. Swill it around, and rub an orange peel around the glass, squeezing out the oils before discarding.
Bonus: We asked Nick, a former Sag Harbor guy, where someone from out East would like to go out in NYC:
“Financial District. Absolutely. You get down to the Financial District and the buildings are shorter, you’re right by the seaport, there are wonderful bars, great food, there’s a Blue Smoke down there, there’s Dead Rabbit down there, there are wonderful walks waterside, parks just up and down the way. It’s a great area to just bob around.”
Words + Photos by Guest of a Guest, as featured in our NYC Issue.