We’re big fans of spy movies here at VinePair, so when a spy-themed speakeasy opened steps away from our offices in the East Village of NYC, we knew we had to check it out. Called Dead Drop, you enter the bar via a staircase into the basement of the restaurant North River, where you’re greeted by a buzzer and the instructions to press for entry. If accepted, the door next to the buzzer opens, and a deliciously dark and sexy cocktail den is revealed. The people behind this place make a damn good drink, so naturally we asked if they might be willing to share a few of their recipes.
We met up with owner and bartender Colby Zito and asked him to concoct three wine-inspired cocktails for our, and your, drinking pleasure. What he whipped up was one classic tipple using Cognac, and two geeky originals which call for Amaro, the Italian herbal liqueur that is made from macerating herbs, roots, flowers or bark in wine and is usually drunk as a digestif. All three will be sure to knock the socks off your guests at your next party.
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While making the drinks, Colby also let us in on two tips for always making stellar cocktails:
This is a simple, delicious classic recipe going back to the 1920s.
- 1.5 oz Cognac (American brandy can work in a pinch)
- 1.0 oz Triple Sec (orange liqueur)
- 0.75 oz Fresh Lemon Juice (get your juice from a lemon, not a bottle)
Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Fill with a lot of very cold ice. Shake hard for 8 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass. Add a twist of lemon if you like. (Some folks also like a sugared rim.)
A Dead Drop Original
- 1.0 oz Old Overholt Rye Whiskey
- 0.5 oz Smith & Cross Rum
- 0.5 oz Amaro Montenegro
- 0.75 oz Byrrh
- 2 dashes of Candy Cap Mushroom Tincture
- 1 dash of Angostura Bitters
- Lemon Twist
Combine all liquid ingredients in a mixing glass. Stir with really cold ice for 15-20 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
A Dead Drop Original
- 0.75 oz London Dry Gin
- 0.75 oz Blended Scotch Whisky
- 0.75 oz Cardamaro
- 0.5 oz Zucca Amaro
- 1 dash Nardini Amaro
- 1 dash Bittermen’s Hopped Grapefruit Amaro
- Grapefruit Twist
Add all liquid ingredients to an old fashioned glass. Locate your biggest, coldest ice cube. Add that to the glass. Stir 10 times. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.