by Jessica Allen
The bars and restaurants listed below transform vegetables and herbs from interesting garnishes to the main event. They use kale, cucumbers, tomato, peppercorns, fennel, and so much more to create destination cocktails. So feel free to skip the appetizers, forego the salads, and order a Garden Variety Margarita or Pepino Fresco instead. Talk about a liquid diet!
206 Ninth Ave.
New York, NY 10011
aRoqa in Chelsea might specialize in Indian food, but its drinks use distinctly American ingredients. The vodka in its Powderfinger, for instance, is distilled from sugar beets at a small-batch distillery in upstate New York, then combined with lime juice, balsamic vinegar, and a strawberry and Swiss chard puree. (If you’re wondering, the sugar beet is almost 20 percent sucrose, so much sweeter than the red ones your mom probably made you eat when you were a kid.) The lusciously red cocktail is served with a piece of Swiss chard big enough to double as a fan.
177 Ludlow St.
New York, NY 10002
Perhaps no restaurant in New York owes more to Instagram than Black Tap. The updated diner skyrocketed onto the scene thanks to its kitchen-sink, gravity-defying milkshakes. But cool photos alone don’t keep folks coming back—the food and spirits are totally crave-worthy, regardless of whether you’re trying to garner likes or gain followers. The newest location, on the Lower East Side, makes a spicy margarita with jalapeno-infused soju (a Korean spirit) and uses both fresh cucumber and cucumber sake in its (aptly named) Pepino Fresco. Each and every cocktail comes in a special wide-mouthed Mason jar. #YesPlease #SeeYouThere
30 Water Street
New York, NY 10004
Regularly named one of the best bars in the world, Dead Rabbit makes a slew of drinks worth trying (duh). But we’re here to talk about cocktails made with vegetables or herbs, and so we will: the Tom, Dick & Harry mixes Chilean pisco and Dutch vodka with hibiscus bitters, red pepper, fennel, lime, strawberry, and rhubarb. The Sucker Punch has rose vermouth, raspberry, grapefruit bitters, tequila blanco, genever, and—surprise!—tomato. As you’d expect from a cocktail lounge run by two longtime mixologists and hospitality vets, the drinks rotate but are consistently extraordinary.
86 Allen St.
New York, NY 10002
The drinks menu at Dirt Candy, on the Lower East Side, has plenty to offer. This restaurant is a 1,000 percent focused on vegetables (indeed, “dirt candy” is what chef/owner Amanda Cohen calls all the good stuff that grows in the ground). The Celery Rickey, to take one example, blends celery juice with seltzer and Beefeater gin, while the Brass Band combines sparkling wine with fennel and bourbon and the Kentucky Lemonade marries bourbon, roasted lemons, and beet juice. Note too that the ethics here as solid as the flavors: Cohen is committed to paying all of her employees a living wage.
2 Cooper Square
New York, NY 10003
“Farm fresh” reads the description of the Green Giant cocktail at Narcissa, a farm-to-table restaurant in the East Village. This cocktail blends gin and lemon—so far, so good, if typical—with tarragon and summer snap peas. Now we’re talking! It’s delish. Other cocktails feature liquors like amaro, aperol, and suze made from herbs, spices, and roots. Complete the experience by grabbing a seat in the seasonal private garden, and order Carrots Wellington (with gremolata, sunchockes, and mushrooms), or a whole roasted cauliflower with lentils, toasted almonds, and French curry broth.
700 East Ninth St.
New York, NY 10009
There’s something otherworldly about The Wayland. Maybe it’s the bar’s location, nestled between two community gardens in the East Village. Maybe it’s the live music, focused as it so often is on country and Americana. Or maybe it’s the cocktail menu. Indeed, its lovingly crafted cocktails draw on unusual ingredients, including apple pie moonshine, chili salt, jicama juice, and Habanero. You definitely can’t go wrong with the Garden Variety Margarita, which adds tequila, agave nectar, and lime to a superfood-esque base of ginger and kale juice.