Meaghen Grace, bartender at Upholstery Store: Food and Wine (713 Washington Street, 212-929-6384) in the West Village, began her career composing drinks in upstate New York. After moving downstate for college, she realized she had a knack for providing liquid solutions for customers’ life troubles. However, like many aspiring professionals, Grace had to start somewhere before she found what area interested her the most — and that meant slinging drinks in New York’s club scene, which gave her plenty of practice in quality and quantity, but not variety. “The club scene, you don’t really get to experiment with interesting, new inventions,” she says. “You can do fun shots every now and again.” And so she fell in love instead with the cocktail world.
The boredom of the disco beat propelled Grace to further her education by helping create cocktail and wine lists, and her position at the newly opened Upholstery — which emphasizes seasonal ingredients and classic recipes — is one of the reasons she enjoys fixing up an Aperol spritz.
“I always love anything fizzy,” she says. “Prosecco. Cava. Anything that has a bubbliness to it is really fun.” The fizz is what gives the drink a textural difference that appeals to Grace, but it’s not the only reason she likes it. “I change a lot. I used to love margaritas. As my palate developed more, I craved that amaro bitterness…fruity but still complex kind of taste. I think it’s a beautiful, elegant cocktail with a vibrant reddish-pinkish hue. It looks like something you want to drink, fancy.”
Aside from its taste, texture, and appearance, the Aperol spritz is a drink Grace knows that’s hard to get wrong when she’s playing the role of customer. “You go to another bar, it’s an easy kind of thing to order,” she says. “Chances are they aren’t going to screw it up too bad.” The same goes for her love of the margarita — she still considers the drink a good backup every now and then, though you won’t find salt near her glass.
Order the drinks at Upholstery, or Grace recommends Vella Wine Bar and The Gilroy, especially for those, like herself, who live on the Upper East Side.
1 ounce Aperol
4 ounces sparkling wine (Grace prefers Champagne, and Cava is suggested too)
Twist of an orange
Optional: Add ice if desired.
Mix all ingredients in a glass. Enjoy.
1 ounce tequila
1 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
3/4 ounce Cointreau
Shake all ingredients. Strain into a glass. Enjoy.
Sick of your usual call drink? Try something new. In this series, we’re asking the city’s bartenders to name their current drinks of choice.