By Terry Trucco
Ah, Memorial Day Weekend – the ideal time to kick back with a start-of-summer cocktail, something refreshing and light with a touch of sweetness, like a drink made with . . . scotch?
The Two E Bar at The Pierre, a velvety, windowless lair that is one of our favorite midtown hotel bars, cooks up specialty drinks menus eight times a year. The latest features six cocktails that are named for famous women (the menu debuted on Mothers Day) and promise a preview taste of summer.
The Cleopatra sounds like a garden party — Bacardi, mint & basil sour mix, simple syrup, Campari and Champagne poured into a champagne flute. But leading the list is sterner sounding stuff – the Eleanor Roosevelt blended from Apry Brandy, Figenza Vodka, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup — and Dewars Scotch. Summer in the Western Highlands? Or Hyde Park?
“Dewars has a sense of history, so that’s why we paired that drink with Eleanor Roosevelt,” says Ryan Drushel, manager of the bar.
The six cocktails were culled from 13 concoctions dreamed up by the lounge bartenders. The assignment: come up with drinks that were lighter and friendlier than, say, a perfect Manhattan or a dry Martini (though many find those very friendly).
After a taste test with five hotel department managers, each winner was named for an A-list
woman and assigned a glass. The Marie Curie, a zingy hued, mad-scientist concoction of
Green Chartreuse, Absolut Pear, simple syrup and pineapple, orange and lime juice, is poured into an Irish coffee mug – “so it looks a bit old-fashioned” in keeping with the 1867 birth date of its namesake, Drushel explains.
The new ingredient this round is Figenza, a fig-infused vodka the team had wanted to try since October. Fig vodka also turns up in the Toni Morrison (Figenza Vodka, Jim Beam, fig and dates). “It mixes well with almost everything,” Drushel says.
It mixed beautifully in the Eleanor Roosevelt we ordered on a recent visit to the lounge. Served on the rocks in a short glass, the drink tasted complex, grown-up and not too sweet, like something you’d sip on a terrace at sunset on a balmy night. Who knew scotch could be so light-hearted? ER got our vote, but according to Drushel, the most popular drink so far is Cleopatra, followed by Marie Curie. Eleanor of Scotch is . . . third.
Two E Famous Lady Cocktail Festival at the Pierre Hotel, 2 East 60th Street; 212 940-8113. All cocktails are $14.