The LCL Bar & Kitchen, which opened yesterday at the Westin New York Grand Central, obliged with a slew of new beverage offerings.We’re all in favor of the juicing trend - these beverages are cold-pressed, organic, raw, nutrient-rich, and all that other admirable stuff. But what cleanse-participant hasn’t looked at her fourth bottle of ginger cayenne lemonade tonic and thought “Wouldn’t this be delicious with a shot of vodka in it?” The bartenders at
The space will be serving fresh juices (think spicy gingerade tonics, antioxidant-rich red juice, unadulterated OJ) from health-obsessed Organic Avenue during the day, but at night those virtuous drinks take a naughty turn when head mixologist Andres Santillana works his boozy magic on them.
“I try to create the same balance in these drinks that is necessary in any cocktail,” Santillana says. “You need sweetness, acid, and a spirit. Most people get that balance by using sugar, simple syrup, liqueurs. But here, instead of using artificial sweeteners, it’s the apple juice or the green juice that are providing that sweetness and acid.”
The Green Dream cocktail tops off the Giving Winter Green juice (a mix of kale, mint, cucumber, collards and other goodies) with cucumber vodka, then sweetens it with apple and adds a tart note of cold-pressed lime juice. Not gritty or grassy like other green juices, it adds a fresh flavor, so the cocktail tastes less like a health-food drink and more like an honest-to-goodness cocktail - but one that fortifies as it intoxicates.
The Bonfire on the Bayou uses OA grapefruit juice as a base, then adds depth with rhubarb syrup (which Santillana created in his kitchen), Williamsburg’s Dorothy Parker gin and creole bitters. Grapefruit’s puckery flavor works wonders at masking gin’s potential bitterness, and the anise-infused bitters add an herbaceous note to play off the gin’s juniper roots. A sour stalk of rhubarb acts as a playful swizzle stick - and something to munch on while you wait for apps.
Muddled cucumber and lemon mix with OA coconut water, organic vodka, ginger powder and egg white to create the frothy Brush and Tone. OA’s coconut water is the best around - it tastes mellow and sweet rather than tangy, and the egg white makes the drink rich and milky in consistency. If this drink is healthy, it sure doesn’t taste like it -- and that’s a good thing.
Sippers are just as happy to be downing these drinks as Santinalla is to be working with the ingredients.
“Organic Avenue does a lot of quality control,” Santinalla says. “Sometimes when you buy at the market, the produce is dry or not ripe. With OA, the consistency is there. They take that worry out of the equation.”