Top Shots: Our 10 Best Cocktails of 2010


Each week in The Daily Shot, we have ourselves a drink that we think you should try, too. Some of these bibulous creations leave our head swimming with delight, while others lead to little more than imbiber’s remorse. We’ve sampled the best tiki, ‘tinis, sours, swizzles, fizzes, cobblers, juleps, toddies, punches, and everything in between. And yet, only a handful truly quenched our thirst. Well, two handfuls, to be precise. The following roundup isn’t of the city’s best cocktails (so keep your pants on, cocktail geeks), but rather the best of our Daily Shots, which are sometimes new signature drinks, sometimes old classics — but always sure to get you tipsy in style.

10. The Brooklyn Cocktail at the Counting Room (44 Berry Street, Williamsburg): Old Overholt rye, dry vermouth, house-made amer picon, and maraschino liqueur make up this classic variation on a Manhattan from the early 20th century. It’s more bittersweet than a Manhattan — like life in the borough, perhaps?

9. The Vieux Carré at Rye (247 South 1st Street, Williamsburg): Rye, brandy, Benedictine, Peychaud’s, and Angostura bitters, stirred and served in a cocktail glass. It’s named for the “old square” of New Orleans, which is how the French referred to the Quarter in the antebellum South.

8. The Jet Pilot at Dram (177 South 4th Street, Williamsburg): Rhum agricole, Jamaican rum, house-made orgeat Falernum, fresh lime juice, and an absinthe rinse, swizzled over crushed ice. As the name suggests, this sweet-spicy, nutty concoction inspired by tiki may cause you to think you can fly.

7. The Mitropa at Orient Express (325 West 11th Street, West Village): Plymouth gin, Aperol, Cocchi Americano, grapefruit bitters, and Peychaud’s bitters, stirred and served up in a cocktail glass with a lemon peel. Inspired by luxury-train bar cars of old, this bitter yet bright, herbaceous elixir may make you want to light up a cigarette at the end of a long ivory cigarette holder. Even if you don’t smoke.

6. The French Fix at Raines Law Room (48 West 17th Street, Flatiron District): Muddled fresh pineapple, fresh lemon juice, Yellow Chartreuse, and Hennessy VS, shaken briefly and served over cracked ice, with mint sprig and fresh-fruit garnish, was perfect over the summer. But we had trouble not downing it in two sips. Hey, call us thirsty.

5. The Vandaag Gin Cocktail at Vandaag (103 Second Avenue, East Village): Bols Genever, golden ale reduction, and bitters, with a wash of kirschwasser and absinthe, served up in a handsome rocks glass. Three fingers of golden tangerine liquid with no garnish and no ice make for an unexpected mix of pleasantly medicinal flavors.

4. The Cortado at Death & Co. (433 East 6th Street, East Village): Pampero Aniversario Rum, Lemon Hart 151 Rum, coffee-bean-infused Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth, White Crème de Cacao, demerara syrup, Angostura bitters, and mole bitters, stirred and served up in a pretty glass. The coffee-bean infusion of beautifully bitter Antica in this drink is like a thread of silk running through velvet.

3. The Dead Bastard at Painkiller (49 Essex Street, Lower East Side): Gosling’s rum, fresh lime juice, ginger syrup, simple syrup, Angostura, bourbon, cognac, gin, and more rum, shaken with one cube, topped with soda in a tall (preferably grimacing) glass, and garnished with a mint sprig and an orange wheel. How a mouthful of ginger manages to be so fresh and juicy in this booze bomb is a mystery or a magic trick of the bartender’s.

2. The White Negroni at Milk & Honey (134 Eldridge Street, Lower East Side): Plymouth gin, Lillet Blanc, and Suze, served over ice in a rocks glass. For those of us who crave the bitter, this drink makes use of gentian-flavored Suze, which just happens to be illegal in this country. Which makes Milk & Honey your middleman for the stuff.

And our No. 1 best Daily Shot is …

1. The West of East India at Mayahuel (304 East 6th Street, East Village): Reposado tequila, Demerara rum, East India Sherry, Falernum, Amaro Nonino, and Xocolatl mole bitters, served up in a cocktail glass. The oak-kissed reposado tequila in the West of East India is bolstered by nutty oloroso sherry, while the rum and Falernum add a touch of spice. It would be a shade too Christmasy were it not for the bitter edge provided by the amaro and bitters. Instead of fruitcake, what you get is bittersweet biscotti.

Can’t swallow our choices? Let us know in the comments section.

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