Walking into Russ & Daughters, the world-famous appetizing shop operating since 1923 in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, is an experience unlike any other. The glass cases are filled with everything from caviar to smoked fish to bagels and sweets. Their new café, located a few blocks from the shop, seamlessly bridges the old-world, neighborhood feel and delicious offerings that make the original Russ & Daughters so special with a well-crafted list of wines and cocktails that one would expect from any fine restaurant.
The Heads & Tails cocktail is a bit of an anomaly at first glance, since both tequila and mezcal fall outside of what one would expect to drink with traditional Jewish food, but it is a nice nod to the LES neighborhood and the cross-pollination of cultures that have existed there over the past century. The drink also takes advantage of the café’s assortment of cordials and vinegary shrubs, specifically a lemon-lime soda made over a several days-long process from lemon and lime zest and sugar oleo-saccharum, and a combination of this lemon and lime juice with dill, cardamom, anise and fennel. Using the cordial instead of fresh juice essentially preserves the citrus for service for many days and also results in a softer, less biting drink.
Though I was skeptical at first, this drink’s subtle smoke and citrus is the perfect companion for Russ & Daughter’s cured specialties, as it cleanses the palate and doesn’t overpower. As you’re transported to a bygone era through the front counter’s old-time aesthetic of a white enamel soda fountain diner, it’s refreshing to see the juxtaposition of an inventive and creative cocktail list such as this one. Just like the store, it seems that every menu item at the café is curated as a unique and precious experience, and they deliver with a smile too. Enjoy.
- 1 1/2 ounces Espolón Blanco Tequila
- 1/2 ounce Vida Mezcal
- 3/4 ounce lemon-lime cordial
- 1/4 ounce Dolin Dry Vermouth
- Garnish the rim of a rocks glass with lemon-lime salt.
- Combine all ingredients into a shaker tin and add ice. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
- Strain into a rocks glass over a ice, with only the salted-rim as a garnish.
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