A heads-up for cocktail chasers: Two new restaurants in southwestern Nassau County have cocktails worth traveling for (followed by a Lyft, Uber or taxi ride home, if necessary). Fittingly for summer, both have ample exotic tropical-style tiki drinks. And in a testament to the power of the collective unconscious, each place has a drink that combines coconut and the chili-infused liqueur called Ancho Reyes. But that’s where they diverge. At the Bowery Bar & Fare, a carnival-themed bar in Rockville Centre, shaved-ice drinks abound on a playful menu created by cocktail consultant Nic Richards. One of them, Shoot the Freak, combines two kinds of rum (white and aged) with Ancho Reyes, a spiced coconut-pineapple syrup and Hellfire Bitters, over a heap of shaved ice. Served in a julep cup, it’s a day on the beach in Hawaii in liquid form, with a smoldering finish that mellows as the ice melts slowly into concentrate below.
At The Craft House, a new restaurant on Freeport’s Nautical Mile, local drinks doyenne Tracy Johanna has come up with a wildly inventive drinks list that includes Off the Grill, a cocktail named for the grilled-corn infused vodka that anchors it — a twist on a body of drinks that are usually based on rum. “I think different spirits are emerging more acceptably in tiki culture,” said Johanna, who also bartends at The Rail in Smithtown and has picked up awards for her creations.
For Off the Grill, she fires corn “until it’s pretty much black,” she says, which “brings out the natural sweetness and intensifies the corn flavor.” Then Johanna infuses vodka with the corn for five to six days, clarifies the spirit and combines it with Ancho Reyes, coconut milk, lime and cilantro over crushed ice. “The cocktail is kind of a play on street corn,” she said.
Johanna has genuine affection for tiki drinks. “I appreciate how presentation can be completely over-the-top ridiculous, and it’s 100 percent expected.”
The Bowery Bar & Fare, 300 Sunrise Hwy., Rockville Centre; 516-493-9023.
The Craft House, 42 Woodcleft Ave., Freeport; 516-665-3950.