The French/American fusion spot David’s Cafe here in NYC has a wine based cocktail program that you need to taste. I had the pleasure of speaking with Rael Petit, the beverage consultant behind this menu about some new and exciting items on the drinks menu!
Sara: I see on the menu a prosecco based wine cocktail, tell me more about some of the wine-based cocktails?
Rael: One of the prosecco cocktails is the Swiss 75 made with kina tempus fugit, Rosemary infused agave, lemon juice and prosseco. Fugit is a type of Swiss bitters and sweet aperitif, so it works well with the dry prosecco. That’s the type of balance I seek in any cocktail be it one made with spirits or ones made with aperitifs.
Sara: What are your favorite ingredients and flavors to work with come spring and summer?
Rael: I love making cocktails with coconut milk or berries during those seasons.
Sara: Do you create your own herbal or fruit infusions into spirits?
Rael: I grew up in Switzerland enjoying Mediterranean cuisine so fresh herbs have always been a part of my upbringing and something I apply now at work. Some of my favorites to work with are rosemary, sage, oregano, etc.
Sara: What are some good spirits or liqueur’s to use in a wine cocktail, without overpowering the wine?
Rael: At David’s Cafe we only have a wine and beer license so I utilize a variety of fortified wines like coochi americano, bonal, sherry Pedro ximenez to give a cocktail depth and complexity.
*Sara’s thoughts… Love that idea! I believe a good sherry or fortified wine can add a lot of personality to a cocktail!
Sara: What’s the best way to create a well balanced wine cocktail?
Rael: If you have a base knowledge of classic cocktails that will go a long way in ensuring your cocktails are well balanced. Part of my inspiration for this menu came from classics like a French 75, a Honeysuckle, a Margarita, etc.
Sara: Any favorite food and wine cocktail pairings on this seasons menu?
Rael: The Swiss 75 is a perfect match with the Shrimp and Grains. Prosseco goes well with most fish dishes and the rosemary in the cocktail goes well with the spices from the grains. The Sardines Rilletes pairs well with the spicy cocktail: The St. Marks. This cocktail is made with Coochi Americano, known as the substitute for lillet kinet, which is used in a James Bond movie as his favorite drink: The Vesper! Byrrh, a red wine aperitif with quinine, agave, red peppers, cilantro and jalapeños.
* Sara’s thoughts… I really enjoy Rael’s passion and vision for creating herbal and seasonal spins on classic cocktails. Re-invention can be creative and inspire new ideas and passions, so when I heard about Rael and this beverage program, I had to pick his brain about it!
Be sure to visit David’s Cafe on St. Marks Place for some great drinks and American/French fare, they even have City Winery wines on tap by the glass!