There’s a subtle artistry to cocktail recipe creation, whether a bartender or beverage director intends to reinvigorate a classic or pull off the utterly unexpected. This fine, flavorful line, however, has not hindered attempts at the astounding. In fact, 2021 provided innumerable noteworthy mixed drinks—from the Dewar’s Japanese Smooth Highball at Katana Kitten (this year’s highest ranked bar in the US according to The World’s 50 Best Bars) to the impeccably crafted Bond Old Fashioned at the high-design members-only club Zero Bond. But the five we highlight below—charismatically depicted by Brooklyn-based artist Paul Tuller, who illustrated the book Pretty Boys: Legendary Icons Who Redefined Beaty (And How To Glow Up, Too)—simply stood out more than any others. Tuller captures an abundance of joy, a dash of majesty and a dollop of kitsch in these images, as he did for CH back in 2016 and 2019. Some of the accompanying recipes are more complex than others, but all of them have an unmatched spark that’s quick to detect on the tongue.
Polar Bear Club at Snowday in Brooklyn (aka Sunday in Brooklyn)
At South Williamsburg’s Sunday in Brooklyn (which opened a sister restaurant in London this year), the enchanting Snowday in Brooklyn pop-up wraps visitors up in bright seasonal cheer. On their menu of exuberant mixed drinks, the Polar Bear Club stands out for the balance of sheer complexity and absolute deliciousness. Notes continue to unfolds with each sip—taken from a honeybear-shaped vessel.
Polar Bear Club
.75 oz Matchbook Distilling “Kistend Bitten” Cold Brew Rum
.75 oz Plantation 3 Stars Artisanal White Rum
.5 oz Norden Aquavit
.375 oz Giffard Banane du Brésil Liqueur
.25 oz Clement Mahina Coconut Rhum
.5 oz Coco Lopez
.5 oz coconut milk
.5 oz pineapple juice
.375 oz cucumber juice (juiced without skins)
.25 oz lime juice
1 pint of crushed ice
Combine ingredients into a blender, add one pint of crushed or pebble ice, blend on high for five seconds until smooth, then serve in an empty Honeybear jar. Tie a ribbon around the bear’s neck to look like a scarf, serve the honeybear jar on a rocks glass of crushed or pebble ice.
SanTaRex (DinoSour) at Miracle on Union (aka Thief)
Within the SanTaRex (DinoSour), tequila and mezcal mix for a deliciously boozy Midori Sour variation that’s accentuated with almond notes. It’s one of the star items on the menu at Miracle on Union, the festive pop-up at Thief. This is part of Cocktail Kingdom‘s annual, international Miracle takeover series, which incorporates a charitable component and also includes Beachbum Berry’s Sippin’ Santa at Boilermaker (and their White Russian Christmas cocktail).
1.5 oz Espolòn blanco tequila
.75 oz Midori
.25 oz Vida mezcal
1.5 oz almond orgeat
1 oz lime juice
4 dashes tiki bitters (Bittermens Elemakule Tiki Bitters)
Add all ingredients to a Miracle cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice. Shake and strain into an ice-filled SanTaRex mug. Garnish with lime wheel or cherry flag and Miracle cocktail parasol.
Blue Negroni at Temple Bar
An icon of Lower Manhattan glamour, Temple Bar reopened this October (after shuttering in 2017). It’s now the vision of David Rabin (of JIMMY, American Bar, SONA, Veranda and The Skylark), Maneesh K Goyal (of SONA and Pineapple Co), and Sam Ross and Michael McIlroy (of Attaboy). Long gone are the fusty curtains and goblets of martini, and in their place are carefully crafted cocktails, caviar bumps and delectable bites. The Art Deco decor remains—and pairs quite well with the hot spot’s Blue Negroni.
1 oz Plymouth Gin
1 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1 oz Blue Campari
Combine ingredients and stir. Serve over rocks in an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with orange zest.
Brunch Punch for Two at Dowling’s at The Carlyle
From Dowling’s—the storied fine-dining neighbor to the iconic Bemelmans Bar inside The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel—the Brunch Punch for Two punctuates a bourbon base with grapefruit and chamomile. There’s an assured elegance to the mixed drink, that’s designed (as the name suggests) to be shared. Long known simply as The Carlyle, the restaurant reopened this October under chef Sylvain Delpique, the former executive chef of the now-fabled 21 Club. The menu at Dowling’s is as impressive as it gets in NYC—and the walls of the 80-seat restaurant are covered in dazzling art.
Brunch Punch for Two
4 oz Maker’s Mark
8 oz grapefruit juice
3 oz chamomile syrup
Mix the above in a decanter and pour into rocks glasses. Garnish with sliced strawberries and chamomile flowers.
Todd is a Hottie at The Lodge at Musket Room
Imagined by head bartenders Drew Johnson and Melissa Brooke of the Michelin-starred restaurant Musket Room, the Todd is a Hottie cocktail humorously plays upon the classic Hot Toddy. Served in a thermos for one person or a tea pot for two, this thoughtfully complex hot beverage is best shared in the restaurant’s cozy winter lodge—a transformation of their outside dining section, which comes complete with heat lamps and nutcrackers. Musket Room’s comforting, contemporary and globally-inspired cooking pairs well with all of their cocktails—and many of their delicious desserts can be ordered through their online holiday shop.
Todd is a Hottie
1 oz Irish Whiskey
.5 oz Benedictine
.5 oz honey
.25 oz lemon
1 satchel handmade white/herbal tea blend*
4 dashes cubeb tincture** (substitute with Angostura bitters if necessary)
Add all ingredients to a tea pot or glass, top with hot water. Allow a few minutes for teabag to steep.
House Tea Blend Recipe*
House tea blend includes Lemon Verbena, Lemongrass, Elderflower, Chamomile, Dried Thyme and Gentian Root. Substitute with any commonly available white or herbal teabag.
Cubeb Tincture Recipe**
2 tbs cubeb berries
2 oz over-proof rum
Let berries steep for 24 hours in rum then strain.
Images by Paul Tuller