As is the trend among Michelin-starred chefs these days, Saul Bolton of the eponymous Smith Street restaurant is opening an American gastropub. The Vanderbilt (570 Vanderbilt Avenue) will serve small plates, such as saffron pickled eggs and house-made sausage. But the “gastro” part of the equation won’t be the only focus. It will also offer a shortlist of craft cocktails, designed by Brian Floyd, who is taking a few months’ break from his regular gig at Weather Up to help get this new venture off the ground.
“The thing about Saul is that he’s very friendly, very approachable. Whatever I want to do, like juice my own juice everyday or make my own syrups, he loves it,” says Floyd. “Like, I said, ‘Let’s make our own tonic,’ and he gets me a whole bag of Peruvian quinine. That’s an advantage other bars don’t have.”
While other establishments are making their own seltzer, making tonic is a little trickier. Floyd is still searching for the right balance of quinine, juniper, coriander, and natural sugars, but a finger dip into the flowery tonic syrup suggests he’s on the right track.
His drinks range from the stiff and aromatic (a King Edward comprises rye, Cherry Heering, vanilla, and a subtle spritz of smoky Islay scotch) to the dangerously drinkable (the Black Cherry Rickey, made with homemade cherry syrup, can easily be turned into a virgin by omitting the vodka, but tastes like one even with the booze). A Pimms cup may sound too summery for fall, but fresh basil spices it up. And the Chase and Shade, made with bonded applejack, apple cider molasses, and black tea, is like autumn in a glass.
So, be forewarned, Prospect Heights: Come next week, the Vanderbilt will seek to tempt you not just with edibles, but with a pretty pool of potables, too.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 15, 2009