If you’re a bartender and have crème de cassis on hand, there’s really no reason why you would also need Ribena, the blackcurrant-flavored soft drink and cordial wildly popular in Britain. But New York mixologists beg to differ.
Sure, there’s a lot to love about Ribena: It’s tasty and not too sweet or artificial-tasting, and it possesses a classic Britishness emblematic of Enid Blyton novels. But essential in cocktails? Debatable.
The Breslin (16 West 29th Street, 212-679-1939) gets blackcurrant happy with its aptly named London Calling cocktail ($12), which combines Ribena syrup with vodka and fresh lemon juice and tops it off with prosecco. Think of it as a British kir royale.
Meanwhile at Double Crown’s adjacent gin-centric bar, Madam Geneva (316 Bowery, 212-254-0350), the Smoked Ribena Collins ($13) features a blackcurrant syrup that’s added to Beefeater 24, lemon juice, and soda. But don’t expect it to be sweet-tart; the smoked Ribena syrup imparts a bacon-like flavor. An acquired taste, perhaps, but probably still a whole lot better than the recently debuted and awful-sounding bacon soda from Jones Soda Co.
That’s two down, and it takes three to make a trend. Any other Ribena cocktail sightings out there?