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[Photograph: Laren Spirer]

I had long heard that Hearth had a fantastic cocktail program. This came as no surprise, knowing the team behind both Hearth and Terroir, Marco Canora and Paul Grieco, and their commitment to well-sourced ingredients, hospitality, and creativity.

I was browsing the Hearth website in search of some background information and stumbled across a listing for a weekly Presidential Cocktail Party each Wednesday night. Stopping by this past week, I hoped to sample one of the several cocktails that bartender Kelley Slagle developed in honor of our former presidents, but when I inquired, she laughed and told me that the listing was from last year.

But she was undaunted.

Undaunted, Kelley pointed me to her cocktail list, which she updates seasonally, and we settled on a cocktail named after "a bitter New Yorker," Leona Helmsley, as a presidential substitute.

The bar at Hearth is small, fewer than ten seats, and the full restaurant menu is available there as well as in the dining room. Most of the patrons at the bar seemed to be dining there or waiting to be seated for dinner, but it is a calming and comfortable perch just to sip on a drink and watch the muted hustle of the restaurant move around you.

The Leona Helmsley

2 ounces Knob Creek Bourbon
1/2 ounce Aperol
1/2 ounce Amaro Nonino
3 dashes Reagan's Orange Bitters

Stir over ice, and strain into a rocks glass, with either one large rock (Kelley suggested making one with a muffin tin if your glasses will fit it), or regular ice. Garnish with a slice of apple.

Hearth

403 East 12th Street, New York NY 10003 (map)
646-602-1300
restauranthearth.com

Although I didn't get my presidential cocktail, my timing was quite fortunate. Hearth hosts a series of regular wine dinners, and I learned that this coming Monday, March 1st at 7 p.m., they're hosting A Spirited Dinner, where each of the four courses (three savory and one dessert) will be served with a perfectly paired cocktail. Kelley is even making her own house Vermouth just for the occasion. Call 646-602-1300 or e-mail to reserve a seat. Cost is $95, all-inclusive.

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