There’s nothing wrong with ordering a vodka and soda, but there are countless bartenders just waiting to make you something different, if you dare to venture into a wild frontier of flavor. Often bartenders have the perfect drink in their back pocket just for those guests who rarely deviate from their vodka safety zone but are also open to trying something new.
At Williamsburg’s recently opened rooftop bar Westlight, bartender Anne Robinson’s menu of 18 cocktails appeals to many tastes, including a deceivingly complex Collins variation that answers the call for those seeking an easygoing drink, ironically named the Crusher — a nod to a song by punk band the Cramps. The drink’s bright ruby color is derived from blueberry juice, which is seldom seen in cocktails but plays beautifully off the herbal Amaro Nonino and Beefeater 24‘s Japanese Sencha tea and Chinese green-tea undertones. It’s still a gin Collins, but deftly played for those who might otherwise recoil at the thought of that spirit. St-Germain, a dash of Angostura and a mint garnish all complete the picture.
However glossy the setting, there is still an element of punk and its rejection of the mainstream making its way into each cocktail, challenging guests to open themselves to the flavors of Strega, sherry, absinthe and Suze. Robinson’s tenure at NYC bars PDT and Booker & Dax helps to make the integration and balancing of these elements into accessible drinks second nature. With the Crusher, the drink moves fast, and though some may deem it sweet based solely on appearance, thankfully the Amaro Nonino quickly dispels any of those rumors. Drinking anything less interesting out of a glass that has “thug” and “life” gold lettering etched on it would be a travesty.
Servings: 1 cocktail
1 ounce Beefeater 24 Gin
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
½ ounce Amaro Nonino
½ ounce St-Germain liqueur
½ ounce Just Blueberry juice
.375 ounce agave syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
- Combine ingredients into a cocktail shaker and add ice.
- Shake vigorously for 5 seconds and strain into Collins glass.
- Top with 1½ ounces club soda and garnish with mint-tufted lemon wedge.
Prep time: 3 minutes