Jody Williams and Rita Sodi’s restaurant partnership is one of New York City legend. Back in 2008, Williams (at the time a chef at one of Keith McNally’s venues) visited Sodi’s recently opened Tuscan-style eatery on the West Village’s Christopher Street, I Sodi, sat at the bar and was so overwhelmed by the food that she was compelled to meet the chef. A few years later, Williams opened the French-inspired Buvette around the corner (there’s now a Buvette in Paris and Tokyo) and then the two moved into a West Village apartment together, before joining professional forces to open their cherished Grove St trattoria, Via Carota, in 2014. They now also have Bar Pisellino and Commerce Inn together, all in the neighborhood.
Today, queues begin to form at Via Carota before they open, and online reservations are rare. The traditional Italian fare is hearty but beautifully balanced, with a focus on high-quality ingredients. Between the olive all’ascolana (fried green olives and pork sausage), acciughe e burro (cultured butter and anchovies on bread) and cacio e pepe tonnarelli; the timber-heavy, rustic decor; familial staff; and always-buzzing energy, the restaurant is a place for indulgence and comfort.
Last week, Via Carota launched a collection of bottled craft cocktails to bring a little taste of the trattoria home. “We created Via Carota Craft Cocktails to bottle the warmth and relaxed elegance of our restaurants,” the duo says. Launching with six classic drinks, Williams and Sodi hope that customers will “be able to enjoy a bar-quality cocktail wherever life finds them.”
Selecting the cocktails to launch with was straightforward—Williams and Sodi wanted to offer classic cocktails that they personally enjoy and are popular with guests at the restaurant. This human approach led them to three “families” of cocktails: negroni (classic and white), martini (signature and espresso) and bourbon (in the form of an old fashioned and a Manhattan). They partnered with several craft distilleries—one being Brooklyn’s Forthave Spirits—to ensure quality ingredients.
The development of each drink took time, but the team was unflinching in their endeavor. To create the negroni, for example, they tried (and passed) on about 85 iterations before landing on the perfect version of the classic Italian cocktail. “We worked very hard at every turn to make sure this felt authentic to who we are, as well as what Via Carota means to us and to our guests,” they tell us. “We care deeply about what we’ve built and how we’ve been embraced in the West Village over so many years. It needed to feel like a natural extension of what started from humble beginnings.”
While they have seven venues between them, launching a product is a very different feeling. “There is blood, sweat, tears and a whole lot of love involved in both experiences,” they tell us. “What’s exciting about launching Via Carota Craft Cocktails DTC, however, is that there’s no limit to who can enjoy them. At our restaurants, we can only serve so many people in a given day, even though we want to share the experience with more people. Via Carota Craft Cocktails transcend those limitations and allow us to share what we love more widely.”
Images courtesy of Charlie Schuck