Low-alcohol cocktails: Life beyond Dry January

13th February, 2015 by admin

Case Study: Grand Banks, New York


“One of the fantastic challenges about Grand Banks was the necessity for a sizable low-abv cocktail menu,” says Rene Hidalgo, bar manager at Grand Banks in New York.

“The first thing you think about are ‘base spirits’, because that is the first thing that a lot of people look at, and suddenly, I realised that I had to find new ways of connecting people with what they wanted, and sometimes, what they didn’t realise that they wanted.

“The Negroni is the classic that mainstreamed the most in the last decade, so that was the first place I looked. One unsung, classic variation on it is the Negroni Sbagliato, or a ‘wrong Negroni’; to make it we just swap out the gin for sparkling wine. And it’s fantastic, simple and has that same play of bitter Campari with the sweet, herbaceousness of vermouth, just lighter bodied with a bit of sparkle.

“An original I created was the Montenegro Royale: Amaro Montenegro, some sweetened ginger juice, fresh squeezed lemon juice and muddled strawberries, all served in a tall glass on crushed ice, topped with Champagne.

“Grand Banks is a great place to play with low-abv drinks, simply because you’re outdoors during the spring and summer, so you really don’t want something heavy and strong. You want something with some kick, but you need to feel hydrated at the same time.”

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