It’s clear we're in the midst of a broad rebirth for cocktails and the spirits that go in them, driven by the demand for excellence by bartenders, distillers and patrons alike. Bartenders hold the keys in ultimately deciding what gets poured in their bars and the best ones put flavor and experience above the bottom line, making room for small, craft-made products to grow.

At the newly opened, 42-seat Nightcap on NYC’s Lower East Side, head bartender and co-owner Natasha David has created a menu full of such incredible inventions, including an Old Fashioned variant using one of the best brandies made in America, Germain-Robin. Started in California in the mid-1980s, Germain-Robin was ahead of the curve, with the founders' goal of producing a high-quality domestic brandy from West Coast grape varietals made with centuries-old Cognac techniques. They used antique alembic pot stills and cellared the brandy for 6 to 8 years in Limousin French oak barrels. 

Designed as an “ode to bartenders” and all of their favorite things, Natasha started this drink with the Italian Amaro Nonino, family-owned since 1897, before adding brandy and another Italian amaro, Meletti, carrying flavors of anise, saffron and caramel. This drink is a slow-sipper, and as it dissolves, the intricacies of its components shine though. It's decidedly sweet yet complex, and just one of the impressive menu offerings at what will surely be one of the most notable cocktail bar openings this year.