Met up with the some of the more interesting personalities working the NYC craft cocktail scene last week at a sponsored rum tasting at the new Lani Kai, which reworks the old Tailor space. Lots more light, and also a lighthearted take on Tiki rather than chef Sam Mason's more serious grub. No solid cocktails, either, sadly, although former barman Eben Freeman, who tried to make them work, with differing degrees of success, was present and creating his 'Five Spice Daiquiri'. All the drinks were made with 'Banks 5 Island Rum', which has a certain distinctiveness to it, a funky character. It mixed very well in the daiquiri, as well as in Jim Meehan's 'Chairman's Refresher'. Meehan, from well-respected PDT, is a brand rep for Banks, and this cocktail, which combines rum, coconut water, Frangelico, and cucumber, was refreshing, yes, and also very potent. There was also 'The Last Luau Swizzle (rum, house-made falernum,cinnamon syrup, lime, and ginger beer; garnished with grilled pineapple) and a Jersey Punch#2 (rum, Laird's apple brandy, EO lime cordial, and bitters) from bartenders Joseph Swifka and Dushan Zaric, respectively. I wasn't able to try any food, but then I was heading to Otto afterward for some pizza and pasta to soak up the booze. Expectations for Lani Kai? Expect to get very, very, drunk.
(Pictured above, from left to right, blogger weinoo, bartender Prini, Don Lee (PDT/David Chang/something of his own opening soon!), and Eben Freeman-formerly of Tailor, now the beverage director for Chef Michael White's Altamarea Group)
525 Broome St, btw Thompson and Sullivan
BELOW...Eben Freeman gives it the 'hard shake'-WARNING-VERY LOUD!