When cocktail wizard Sasha Petraske debuted New York's original Milk & Honey 15 years ago, the secret phone number refuge teased palates with a more thoughtful approach to intoxication: bespoke cocktails made with fresh ingredients. And though Petraske is often credited as an early pioneer in what's now known as "craft cocktail" culture—a school of drinks usually made with quality spirits, good ingredients and maybe some fancy ice—following close behind was another seminal New York potation pro, Julie Reiner, co-owner of Flatiron Lounge and Clover Club, which launched in 2003 and 2008, respectively.
But Reiner was improving bar staples far before then. "I started putting out seasonal menus in 1997 at the bar I was managing," she says of Washington Square Hotel's C3 lounge. "I was just entertaining myself, trying to take a more culinary approach to cocktails and give people something delicious in a glass." And drinks done well with an entertaining angle is exactly the topic of her first recipe book, The Craft Cocktail Party, out tomorrow.
"I was just entertaining myself, trying to take a more culinary approach to cocktails and give people something delicious in a glass."
Inspired by "the numerous emails and phone calls that I have received over the years from friends and family asking what they should make for various holidays and occasions," Reiner divided the book into seasons, with sub-sections dedicated to relevant holidays (Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Derby Day) and themes (Farmers' Market, Fireside Drinks, Mocktails). She shares secrets for Sangria, explains how to repurpose leftover Thanksgiving cranberry sauce into a Cosmopolitan, and rallies in favor of strawberry-infused Aperol. Reiner also adds that her " sister-in-law and mother ... provided feedback over the years" helping to mold recipes based on "what a non bar industry person found easy or difficult to make in the home."
While Reiner built some libations based off of that feedback, others, like the Gin Blossom (a variation on the Martini), are staples straight from Clover Club's menu. But ultimately, the book seeks to break down Reiner's winning drinks in a manner fit for the home.
The Craft Cocktail Party was published by Grand Central Life & Style and hits shelves and Amazon tomorrow. Until then, check out the preview below.