By Terry Trucco
Last season, the Algonquin concocted six signature holiday drinks, including a killer eggnog. But this year? No cheer.
I was also intrigued when I heard of Hilton’s Twelve Days of Christmas cocktails (Two Turtle Doves — Baileys, rum and espresso – sounded promising). Too bad they’re only available at Hilton hotels in Great Britain.
But fear not. I found a trio of New York hotel bars in a holiday mood.
Hearing about an eggless eggnog called Bah Humbug, I headed to the rooftop Jimmy Bar at The James. It was a chilly night before the Big Snow, but Jimmy proved a sweet haven with heart-stop views of the Hudson, potted firs swathed in fairy lights and velvet banquettes, all warmed (visually, at least) by a glass-fronted fireplace.
The drink, a luxurious amber mix of Flor de Cana rum, three liquors and Velvet Falernum (a sweet syrup flavored with fruit, nut and spice), nestled comfortably in an old-fashioned glass over one enormous block of ice, embedded with a cinnamon stick ($17). Curled up on a banquette, I gazed onto the river as I sipped. Bliss.
Big ice cubes, by the way, are a trend you may have noticed. Some bars, like the Randolph Lounge, chip them off enormous blocks. Jimmy uses molds, the better to flavor them with cinnamon, spice and everything, well, nice, the bartender explained.
Lured by its full menu of holiday concoctions, I headed up to the Empire Hotel across from Lincoln Center. I passed on the Ho Ho Hot Toddy, a boozy riff on a Starbucks latte, it seems) and opted for the Kiss’eltoe (Plymouth gin, homemade cranberry sauce, lemon juice and sparkling wine). Too late. A party of six at the next table apparently used up the last of the cranberry sauce. I made due — happily –with It’s All Gravy Baby — Bacardi Gold, spiced syrup, cinnamon-spiced apple juice and lemon juice ($15). The lobby bar, with its double-height ceiling, long velvet curtains and animal-print pillows, proved a cozy lair.
I was surprised to learn the Intercontinental New York Barclay’s holiday drinks are Latin-inflected. Not much is in this 1920s neo-Federalist building, more evocative of Alexander Hamilton than Cuba. But never mind. For seasonal flavor, the Holiday Mojito is made with an apple cider Calvados mixture and rimmed with brown sugar. The Holiday Margarita’s ingredients also had a seasonal spin. In short, unexpected but pleasing ($15).