There is probably nothing more New York than waiting for the subway with a cocktail in your hand. And thanks to Merchants Gate, a bar that has recently opened in Columbus Circle that is precisely what you can now do.
Named after one of the four gates to Central Park, Merchants Gate Bar is all about making a drink that is not only easy and fast but also flavoursome and incredibly good. After all, if your guests may need to leave somewhat abruptly to make their connection, then you want their experience to have been memorable, as well as speedy.
“Here we’re underground, and everybody is trying to catch a train,” said JJ Condon, “so they want things as fast as they can get.
“When people see ingredients that they already know on a menu, it makes it easier for their choice to happen. We’re trying to have them a good time while they’re waiting for their train, but we know that they may have to leave at a moments notice.”
An example of these comfortable, familiar but flavoursome drinks is their new cocktail, 1832. Named after the year that Merchant’s Gate opened, 1862 is a vibrant yellow drink with a bright, bittersweet flavour.
There is so much depth to the lively drink that Condon describes the taste of the cocktail as being similar to a first date. “At first its a little bitterness,” he said, “then it moves onto a smokey middle before coming to a satisfyingly sweet finish.
“1862 has a bright bitterness that you might not expect, he continued. “Although Mezcal is the base spirit and underlying flavour, you don’t get that smokiness right away. The smokiness tends to come in the middle of the taste before you finish with the sweetness Lillet and Maraschino.
Although Condon points out that you could use any quality Mezcal for this drink, he says that he chose Vida to ensure it was a brand with which most people would be familiar.
“In this bar, I try to make things that are easy for people to recognise. And anyway, I love Vida but, it’s a Mezcal that a lot of bars carry, so it’s a very accessible Mezcal.
While Condon points out that the duration of the stir will depend on the type of ice you are using, he is careful to point out that this is definitely a drink that you don’t want to be over diluted.
“With most home ice, if you stir for about 20-30 seconds, that should be right. The more practice you have at stirring, the more you will be able to feel the dilution rate when it’s done.
He also points out that when stirring a cocktail, it is important to get the technique right.
“When I put the spoon in the glass, I am trying to get the spoon as close to the edge of the glass as possible,” said Condon. “You are not trying to move the ice, what you are really trying to do is move against the glass.”
0.5oz Lillet Blanc
0.25oz Maraschino Liqueur
1.5oz Mezcal – vita
2 dash of Orange Bitters
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and stir. Stain into either a coupe or a double rocks glass with ice.
Cucumber & Lemon zest for garnish