Starting with extended cocktail hours, and now tackling the wilds of weekend brunch, this summer’s newcomer Alta Linea (180 Tenth Avenue; 212-929-3888) has style to spare — though would we expect anything less from the team behind dell’anima and L’Artusi?
White umbrellas shade the courtyard of the High Line Hotel, newly occupying Chelsea’s landmark General Theological Seminary. Birds cheep in the adjoining apple orchard, where Clement Clarke Moore sat and wrote ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, way back in 1823. What he would have made of the frozen negroni, the star drink on Alta Linea’s menu, is anybody’s guess.
Executive beverage director Joe Campanale tells the Voice the drink came about “because I knew that the space was going to be outside, and we couldn’t offer people air conditioning, so I thought — go frozen. But then, of course, I wanted to elevate that experience. What would be better than a frozen negroni on a warm summer day in a beautiful courtyard? Then I had to figure out how to make them.”
First port of call, Brooklyn’s Kelvin Slush. “I love their frozen Arnold Palmers, and they’re really the experts, so I asked for their help,” Campanale says. “They helped formulate the recipe, and really taught me everything about making frozen drinks. They hooked me up with my machine” (an $8,000 Taylor slush maker). “We started with a smaller one, but we were making so many drinks, it wasn’t enough.
“We make close to 200 servings a night,” Campanale reports. “It’s by far our most popular drink. Even at brunch it outsells the bloody mary by a long way. It’s all about the frozen negroni.”
So what goes into the glass? “Campari, of course, red vermouth, really great Greenhook gin made with local New York grain, freshly squeezed orange juice, and Kelvin’s citrus slush. We pour it into the slush machine, no added ice, and the machine churns and cools it to that iced consistency that you’re looking for.”
Grab a cold, slushy glass, then check out the kitchen’s spread of easy Italianate appetizers like creamy burrata, or sprightly brunch classics like buckwheat pancakes with berries and crème fraîche, summer squash and corn frittata, and yogurt with cherry cashew granola.
The patio is open daily from 5 to 10 p.m. (9 p.m. Sundays) and for weekend brunch 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Check with the restaurant if rain seems likely — with no indoor seating, the restaurant operates at the whim of the weather.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 1, 2015