Editor's note: New York's cocktail shakers work all kinds of wonders behind the bar—so why not learn a few tricks from the pros? In Mix It Up, Serious Eats contributor Laren Spirer will find out the secrets behind the city's best cocktails, with the recipes to shake 'em up at home.
Yes, Virginia, there is life above 14th Street. There are plenty of folks in New York who would sooner go to the outer boroughs than to the Upper East or West Sides, but I'm here to give you one good reason to hop on that express train to 72nd Street—Fatty Crab's uptown outpost.
If you are a hardcore downtowner, you've likely been to Chef Zak Pelaccio's Fatty Crab in the West Village, a tiny but bustling restaurant on Hudson Street. Pelaccio's menu is based on the flavors of Malaysian street food, full of complexity and spice, and Allan Katz's cocktails are a perfect match. The thing is, you'll always have to wait to get a seat, and there's really no bar to speak of. Instead, head to the Upper West Side, where Fatty Uptown's spacious bar awaits you.
Like Fatty Downtown, the UWS version is not for the faint of heart—the music's just as loud, and there's always a hint of a party in the air, but the added elbow room makes it much more comfortable to linger over a few drinks. There's plenty of space behind the bar for the bartenders to craft their twists on tropical classics and play with infusions, all without the wait.
Fatty Uptown's signature "Camptown Twist," after the jump.
Allan gave us the recipe for a cocktail that personifies Fatty Crab uptown—the Camptown Twist. The chili-infused rum is a doozy, but quickly mellowed out by the pineapple syrup, and the cilantro ties in the Southeast Asian flavors that dance around the food menu.
As he described it to us:
As the drink begins to dilute, the cilantro’s flavor begins to take over more and more. On the menu, it's described as "something that starts out hot and simmers down to something cool, just like a Sam Cooke song." Yes, I name all of my spicy drinks after Sam Cooke songs. Remember, kids: If you’re making cocktails for beautiful women at home or work, playing Sam Cooke never hurts."
He's got a point.
This one's a bit complex, but well worth the effort. And if you don't feel like brewing up your own syrups and infusions, all the more reason to head uptown for a visit!
1 1/2 oz chili-infused rum 3/4 oz lime juice 1/2 oz pineapple syrup Approximately 12 sprigs of cilantro Soda water
Muddle all of the ingredients except the soda water in a highball glass. Add 1/2 glass ice, and stir. Add more ice, stir briefly, then add 1 oz. soda and very briefly churn to incorporate fizz. For extra credit, use cobbled (“pebble”) ice and swizzle it all, following the same method.
Pineapple Syrup: Chop one whole pineapple and cook it in 1 quart pineapple juice and 1 quart Sugar in the Raw. Let it simmer at about 250 degrees for a good long time, about 45 minutes or so, until it reduces by about 20 percent. During the simmer, add 3 oz. brandy. The syrup should be moderately thick and very flavorful. Preserve it with 1 oz. per quart of 100+ proof vodka (Luksosowa 100 is best) and keep refrigerated when not in use. It can hold for weeks that way.
Chili Infused Rum: Use 3 red Thai chilies and one long green chili (Asian long green pepper) for one quart of white rum (any Brugal or better-quality white rum will do). Slice chilies into approximately 1/4 inch slices, add (along with seeds) to rum, and agitate infusion occasionally for 3-5 hours. As Allan put it, "The rum should be hella spicy, but not scorching."