In June 2013, world-renowned bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana (twice named "UK Bartender of the Year") was brought in as the Creative Director for NYC's Henry, A Liquor Bar, which is just above the escalators at the Hudson Hotel. Beginning with their fall cocktail offerings, Chetiyawardana began to construct a menu utilizing the freshest local and seasonal ingredients, limitless imagination and a desire to invoke the actual feelings we associate with each time of year; a step beyond the seasonal cocktails we've come to expect annually. Chetiyawardana invited CH to the debut of Henry, A Liquor Bar's newest menu, which launches today, 27 March 2014. Not only were the drinks refreshing and perfect for this time of year, Chetiyawardana also offered many awe-inspiring moments that demonstrate the depth of his artistry.
"Over time I've become familiarized with the New York City seasons. I wanted to create a menu that used all of the resources of the region—and even those of this bar, and this hotel, which came with amazing unique equipment," he explains. Specifically for spring, Chetiyawardana was moved by the early sprigs of color; "I wanted [to include] the greenness of the season." In many instances, he lands exactly that in both taste and substance, but in certain instances his concoctions even exude that in spirit.
Each season of cocktails is presented in a menu, with illustrations accompanying each, hand-drawn by Chetiyawardana himself; further depicting the link between bartender and his craft. Of his many new releases, Chetiyawardana shared three recipes with us.
In a ridiculous twist on the traditional gin fizz, Chetiyawardana developed the Elderflower Ramos. "It's a crazier style serve," he notes, quite accurately. The drink is served in a champagne glass; stretched tall enough to see the rich, frothy texture of the entire drink. Calling to mind the molecular cooking of master experimental chefs, the Elderflower Ramos employs house-cultured cream and St Germain liqueur.
These base elements, along with select others, are drawn into a soda siphon, shaken and then squirted into a glass in foam form. The taste is delicate, but sweetly floral—which is true of the entire experience for the lucky drinker.
2 oz St Germain elderflower liqueur
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz of lime juice
2 oz house-cultured cream
All the ingredients are combined, drawn into the siphon and shaken. Serve in a champagne flute.
Smashed Pea Smash
Growing his own pea shoots, Chetiyawardana wanted to make use of their crisp, green sweetness. Pairing them with mint made sense and to extract the most flavor, he thought a "smash" would be the most fitting cocktail. A smash defines a drink where soft herbs (or other ingredients) are shaken so extensively that the flavor is literally torn from them. With the Smashed Pea Smash, there's an almost grassy delight on the tongue, and an overall refreshing finish. It's still light, but there's a hidden potency within its vodka base. It's incredibly crisp, with a hint of nuttiness. Chetiyawardana says that the alcohol bridges the gap between greeness and freshness.
a pinch of pink salt
home-grown pea shoots
2 oz Belvedere vodka
1 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz simple syrup
a sprig of mint of mint
All ingredients (except the lettuce) are combined and shaken vigorously, before being poured. The lettuce is lightly charred, just to release flavor and scent, and used as an additional flourish and garnish. Serve in a tumbler.
With an intelligent and sophisticated approach to a fruitier drink, Chetiyawardana developed the gin-based Rhubarb Leaf, a spin on the Raspberry Collins. It's more tart, but with an almost berry sensation. The herbal elements of the gin prevent the drink from being too sweet, allowing for a fulfilling balance of flavors that are quite easy on the palate. With so many factors at play, the scent and flavor are reminiscent of budding growth in springtime.
1.5 oz Plymouth gin
1/2 oz Martini dry vermouth
3/4 oz house rhubarb cordial
1/2 oz of lemon juice
a sprig of mint (for garnish)
Combine all ingredients, shake and stir. Serve in a martini glass and garnish with mint.
Try Chetiyawardana's thoughtful creations at the Hudson Hotel's Henry, A Liquor Bar at 356 West 58th St, New York.
Images courtesy of the Hudson Hotel