We New Yorkers sure do love our culinary combinations. Maybe it’s because we live in a city that moves too fast to grant us time to enjoy a singular offering’s appeal, or perhaps we’re just an insatiable breed that’s already craving the next big thing while we’re mid-Cronut chew.
Either way, we’re glad Empire Diner (210 Tenth Avenue, 212-596-7523) is on the case with its “Salty & Sweet,” a concoction of salted-caramel ice cream, Coca-Cola, and vodka that offers the pleasures of a caffeine fix, dessert, and libation all in one.
It was primarily the soaring city temperatures that prompted chef Amanda Freitag to feature the new boozy floats, a lineup that also includes a “Black Cherry Bombe” and “Grapefruit Fizzy Float.” “They’re such fun summer drinks,” says Freitag. “It’s also nostalgic to have floats in the summer and to put a twist on them with adult flavors. And, of course, the booze changes everything.” (Amen to that.)
For the “Salty & Sweet,” the ice cream served as a starting point for the finely tuned tipple that followed. “We were inspired by the salted-caramel ice cream and how it would taste with Coca-Cola,” Freitag explains. Once the team realized the success of the contrasting flavors, selecting a spirited add-on became an easier challenge. “We chose vodka because we really wanted the other flavors to shine,” she says.
The decision to feature the boozy floats during the restaurant’s new happy hour, which offers deals on bar snacks and libations 5-7 p.m. Monday through Friday, adds another title to the “Salty & Sweet”‘s ongoing list of descriptors: aperitif. “This is meant to have before you start the meal,” Freitag explains. “Just a salty and sweet warmup!”