A bartending superstar visited New York City last night to celebrate the launch of a new line of cocktails.
Alex Kratena, crowned Bartender of the Year in 2012 at the Spirited Awards in New Orleans, just developed five drinks for Langham hotel bars in New York, Boston, Chicago and Pasadena, Calif. Each city has its own signature drink, with two specially created as permanent additions to the New York City menu.
Dozens of professionals from the nightlife, food and beverage industries attended the event at Measure Lounge at Langham Place in Midtown.
Kratena, originally from the Czech Republic, lived in New York for a time in the ’80s.
“I was fascinated by graffiti art,” he told Business Insider. “Lady Pink was one of the big superstars of street art at the time and I wanted the New York drink to pay homage to her.”
Lady Pink was interested in historical romance and aristocracy, both of which are right up New York’s alley.
Kratena took rhubarb, in season for early spring, and complemented it with Fino (a dry Spanish sherry), citrus, agave, and bitter orange to create a fresh, light and perfumy drink.
One guest got exactly those notes. She said it “tasted like perfume and felt like cotton candy.” A visiting couple from England, where Kratena founded his award-winning Artesian Bar at the Langham Hotel in London, also thought the drink had a nice sweetness.
A hip pair of friends from Harlem and Greenwich Village said it was too sugary, although they thought most New Yorkers want sweet drinks. The two men preferred a smoky drink called Back to the Future that Kratena concocted with Talisker, port, sherry, citrus cacao and raspberry for the Chicago Langham hotels.
The Boston drink, called Skylines, tastes like tart lemonade with a spiced Norwegian whiskey as its base. The Social Club, made for Pasadena, contains vodka and rosewater among other things, and is fizzy with a taste like a bouquet smells. It was a big crowd-pleaser.
Kratena said he’d never been to those two cities so he “did a lot of reading about their local flora and fauna” when inventing their drinks. A lot of his concoctions make liberal use of herbs and spices.
The simplest drink on the menu was the Marsey, named after a Langham staffer who recently died. It’s a twist on the Manhattan with a side beer and will be available in New York City’s Langham along with the Lady Pink.
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