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8 Cocktails You Need to Try in New York City in 2023

By The Center Magazine StaffJan 11 2023
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Rockefeller Center first opened its doors in 1933, the same year President Franklin D. Roosevelt repealed Prohibition. For the Americans who celebrated, their drink of choice was the French 75, a wine-based cocktail fancifully served in a champagne flute.

As with all fads, people’s cocktails of choice shifted throughout the years. In the 1940s, the daiquiri reigned supreme; not long after, the martini became synonymous with the 1950s. Fast forward to 2023 and personal tastes are getting, well, more personal. Sure, there are still trends (we all remember the summer of the Aperol spritz), but now we’re in search of our go-to — the drink we order time and time again, even if we can only get it at one bar.

If you’re still on the hunt for your perfect cocktail, look no further than Rockefeller Center. It’s home to dozens of bars and restaurants that put new spins on old classics and some even have signature drinks of their own. To guide you on your search, here are eight must-try cocktails at Rockefeller Center.

If you prefer to go spirit-free, Boisson, now open at Rockefeller Center, has a wide selection of non-alcoholic options to fit everyone’s tastes. Find some of their alcohol-free cocktail recipes here.

1. The Green River, Pebble Bar

The Green River is a riff on an East Side Cocktail and features Hendrick’s Gin, Chareau Aloe liqueur, cucumber juice, lime, and mint. Shaken with mint and served up in a coupe glass, it was invented for the Pebble Bar winter menu, but its popularity makes it very likely that it will remain a house classic on future menus.

Hendrick’s Gin, known as the "cucumber gin," is practically made for this cocktail, but the wild card that sets the drink apart from an East Side is the aloe liqueur. Its blend of botanicals and aloe vera adds both balance and refreshment, and the inclusion of Demerara gives the cocktail more body and depth than something like simple syrup would provide.

2. The Beretta, Jupiter

Made with prosecco, husk cherries, and grappa, the Beretta embodies the ethos of Jupiter: cuisine that is simple and delicious. Freshly muddled husk cherries offer fruity notes that are both savory and tropical and play alongside earthy Caffo Grappa and bright lemon. Topped with Prosecco, the Beretta can be enjoyed equally during Aperitivo Hour while mangia-ing on fried artichokes or digging into a hearty plate of pasta.

3. The Prometheus, Smith & Mills

Named for the statue on the Rink Level, the Prometheus is a play on a Negroni/Old Pal/Boulevardier style and will be a featured signature cocktail on the Smith & Mills (opening spring 2023) menu. Head Bartender Mario Castro developed the must-try drink with rye whiskey, spiced pear brandy, Italian vermouth blend, Campari, and spiced orange foam.

Photo by Evan Sung
Photo by Evan Sung

4. NARO Espresso Martini

The rich take on the espresso martini features cold brew coffee (made in-house) and Korean staple ingredients chunjang (black bean paste) and ginseng — which add a savory jolt and texture. NARO also uses Hwanggeum Bori 40 Soju, made from heirloom golden barley, as the base spirit in the drink; this provides an opportunity to those who may be new to the world of sool (Korean Alcohol). The NARO Espresso Martini is currently available during all of NARO’s operational hours: 11:30-3pm and 5-11pm.

5. The Rockefeller Martini, Lodi

The Rockefeller Martini is Lodi’s take on the classic. Made with a choice of gin or vodka, vermouth secco, and lemon oil, the cocktail is poured into a coupe. What remains in the shaker is served in a small glass carafe balanced on a bed of ice. It’s presented on a silver tray alongside a side of green olives and seasonal pickles — and it’s available to order all day long.

6. Pineau Colada, Le Rock

Le Rock’s Pineau Colada reimagines the ultimate vacation drink as a breezy French aperitif. There’s no rum, but the cocktail is made with Pineau des Charentes — an aperitif wine from the Cognac region — along with a splash of Vieille Prune (plum brandy aged in Limousin oak). The Pineau gives the drink a fresh, floral quality which is grounded by rich, raisiny notes from the plum brandy.  Additionally, the drink uses French pineapple juice made by Alain Milliat in Valence, France as well as a house blend of coconut cream. The Pineau Colada is frothy but not cloyingly sweet, and it's available at lunch and dinner.

7. Wisteria Pergola, Five Acres

The Wisteria Pergola is a nod to Five Acres’ sister restaurant Olmsted's most popular cocktail, the Rosemary, with a Rockefeller Center spin. Five Acres defines it as a well-balanced Mezcal "Margarita" riff featuring Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, Italicus Bergamot Liqueur, Chareau Aloe eau de vie, and lime juice with an Absinthe rinse. Served on the rocks with a black lava salt rim, guests sip the cocktail from an art deco-style glass inspired by the architecture of Rockefeller Center.

8. Homer's Day Off, 21 Greenpoint

Essentially a Hibiscus Margarita — with hibiscus, tequila, and fresh lime juice as the main ingredients — Homer's Day Off is a 21 Greenpoint classic and the favorite drink of chef and owner Homer Murray. The cocktail was created many years ago by a thoughtful bartender who noticed Murray adding hibiscus to his soda water while he cooked on the line. When he did have a rare day off, he would come in for a margarita, and the bartender would add just the right amount of hibiscus to the drink to make it pink (Homer’s favorite color) and add a bit of tart and tangy flavor.

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