Freddy Smalls Bar + Kitchen has a pared-down cocktail menu courtesy of its new director Johan Stein, who trained under Noah Ellis at Red Medicine and Julian Cox of Picca, Sotto, and Rivera, among others. The cocktails were soft-launched in mid-February.
Stein came up with eight cockails to replace the previous 12 after looking into what was selling at the bar and taking into consideration Freddy Smalls' location, size and ambiance.
“I wanted to strip it down. I try to keep the menu as simple as possible. Approachable and clean,” he says.
The cocktails appear in order of strong to light. Even at their strongest, the drinks are lighter in taste than you might expect — due to Stein's preference for refreshing cocktails made with strong spirits. All eight cocktails include either some kind of herb or citrus component, like the Bay Ridge with Norwegian vodka, ginger, lemon, Champagne and dill, or the Buffalo Cup composed of bourbon, yellow chartreuse, clover honey, bitters and lemongrass.
“I like balanced cocktails that aren't so over-the-top or have too many flavors. I hate really spicy drinks or drinks that have a ton of flavor,” says Stein. “You can have only one because after one or two sips, it's just too much.”
Stein's favorites are the Cat & Mouse, a white wine cocktail with gin, and the Porco Rosso, which gets its light heat from a habanero pepper.
Stein started bartending six or seven years ago, having spent time exploring cooking before returning to train with Ellis at Red Medicine. “These are my flavors, but when it comes thinking about how cocktails come together, it's very much like Noah.” Which reminds us that maybe we should all buy drinks for our mentors every now and then, especially when they helped to create them.
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