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Even though I was in NYC for less than 10 hours, I had to carve out a little time for a cocktail. So after exploring kitchen design and a Jackson Pollock painting that took my breath away at MOMA, I decided to end my day at Forty Four. The recently reincarnated lobby bar at the Royalton Hotel boasts a great menu that is the brain child of the Cocktail Collective—Eric Alperin (Varnish, LA), Richard Boccato (Dutch Kills, NYC), Simon Ford (global cocktail ambassador for Pernod Ricard USA), Misty Kalkofen (Drink, Boston) , John Lermayer (Florida Room, Miami Beach, and Woodward in Boston), and Willy Shine (Contemporary Cocktails). On their own, each of these people are rockstars; put them all together and whoa!
The bar space is something else. From the exterior you might think the Royalton is a bank—a heavy granite façade with large columns flanking the entry way. As you walk through the large black doors, a second set of doors slowly glide open revealing the dimly lit length of the lobby, complete with dark furniture, wooden screened walls and two large fireplaces that look like walls of flames (a bit unnecessary on our visit since the temp was in the 60s). There is something ceremonial about the whole thing—I imagined this is what entering an ancient Egyptian temple might have been like.
The cocktail menu is fabulous—classics, new creations, and even bowls of punch (we would have a needed a few more people in our posse to justify the $250 bowl of punch). There were so many interesting options, I wished I had time for more than one drink, but alas a bus full of museum volunteers awaited my arrival. Since I have yet to meet a Last Word variation that I didn’t like, I chose The Other Word made with single village mezcal, lime juice, agave nectar, Yellow Chartreuse and maraschino liqueur. Once my palette got used to the smoky mezcal, the other flavors–herbaliness, nuttiness, tart, and earthly– emerge. Really delicious. Brian’s Reconciliation was also quite memorable. An homage to the Old Fashioned, this drink features rye, Amaro Lucano, orgeat and a Sambucca rinse and its like nothing I’ve ever drank before. Warm and rich, and slightly sweet.
The seating –modern, comfortable couches, benches, and chairs– create many seating nooks. Perfect, as Jeff commented, as a place to rest after a long day in the city or for a rapper’s entourage to hang out late night. Since we had been exploring the city since 10 am and at various times have referred to our little posse as Swizzle and the Bone Crushers or Yani Kohani and the Mulyatz (Don’t ask. I don’t even think I can explain.), we fit right in. Cheers!