Tim Harris, owner of Manhattan Cricket Club (226 West 79th Street, second floor; 646-823-9252) and Burke & Wills (226 West 79th Street; 646-823-9251), can thank his family for his line of work. The native of Australia started working in restaurants at eight years old, and he has held every job imaginable in the restaurant industry, from his early days bussing tables at his parents’ place to learning how to tend bar at a classic Victorian hotel. Through all of those experiences, he’s come to appreciate classic things, like the boulevardier.
Having learned the trade from a woman who was “very specific about classic cocktails,” says Harris, he came to New York in 2007 on an adventure and has found a home away from home. Knowing how to make boozy libations helped him establish himself at New York’s Australia-themed spots, like the Sunburnt Cow and Bondi Road. However, if not for a natural disaster, Harris may not have been in the position that he finds himself today. “When the hurricane [Sandy] knocked out the Sunburnt Cow, it sucked the life out of other businesses,” says Harris. That’s when Harris moved uptown to the Upper West Side and took over the lease at his current location.
That’s also when Harris met veteran mixologist Greg Seider of The Summit Bar, who had a profound impact on his taste buds. Seider made Harris a boulevardier, and it became an instant member of Harris’s go-to cocktail arsenal.
“When Greg first made it for me, it fell right into my wheelhouse,” Harris says. “My classic go-to was always the manhattan, and that came from my grandfather.” The boulevardier also felt like a personal connection: Harris’s mentor in Australia was Italian and championed the power of the negroni, another cocktail made with Campari.
“[The boulevardier] is the lovechild of a negroni and a manhattan,” he says. “It’s a great drink for someone who likes whiskey but doesn’t want it full on as a manhattan. It’s been around since the Twenties. It’s evolved a little bit. You can twist on it really nicely. It still holds the major elements.”
A boulevardier is typically one part whiskey, one part Campari, and one part sweet vermouth, but Seider and Harris have played with the recipe a bit for the version on their menu. Harris enjoys putting a little more emphasis on the whiskey when making the drink to let it shine through more, which can help mix up the flavor profiles and possibilities. After the duo was introduced to Cappelletti, an Italian aperitivo, the bitter element the spirit brought to the drink could not be replaced.
Harris recommends the drink for those who appreciate spirit-heavy bold flavors, and those torn between negronis and manhattans. In addition to Summit Bar, he enjoys grabbing a classic cocktail at Maison Premiere.
Boulevardier of Broken Dreams
2 dashes orange bitters
3/4 oz. Dolin Rouge Vermouth
3/4 oz. Cappelletti Aperitivo
1 1/2 oz. Knob Creek Small Batch Rye
Place all ingredients in a mixing glass. Fill with ice and stir about 50 times.
Strain over a single large ice cube into a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a large orange peel.
When not in the mood for boulevardiers, Harris also has a few go-to cocktails he uses to test out bartenders. “If someone can make a really good daiquiri and old-fashioned..if they can do those well, I’m going to stay for a few hours,” he says.
2 dashes orange bitters
2 dashes aromatic bitters
1/4 oz. agave syrup (50/50 light agave nectar/water)
2 oz. High West Double Rye
Place all ingredients in mixing glass. Fill with ice and stir until very cold (approximately 30 to 45 seconds). Strain over a single large ice cube in a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a thick slice of orange peel.
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.