During its heyday, Cienfuegos was one of New York City’s most beloved rum bars. The second-floor East Village haunt earned serious acclaim during its eight years of existence, becoming somewhat of a legend among patrons and industry folk in the process. Though its shuttering was a loss, what has replaced it is already poised to forge a legacy of its own.
Proprietor Ravi DeRossi, who owned Cienfuegos (and currently operates Amor y Amargo and Mother of Pearl, the two bars below it), has transformed the former Cuban tea room into a goth-romantic saloon where one might expect Thandie Newton to emerge from a hidden door in full Westworld garb. It’s a strong vibe at Honeybee’s NYC, but never gaudy or overdone. In true DeRossi style, the menu is entirely vegan–it’s the meatless Texas barbecue we never knew we needed, thanks to Chef Amira Gharib, a Boulud Sud and Matador Room vet. The cocktail program, headed up by Amor y Amargo’s Sother Teague, does an impressive job of keeping patrons on their toes.
Teague’s riff on the Mai Tai is particularly noteworthy. I’m not one to order the same drink twice (or finish one in three rather large sips), but again, it’s all about small surprises here. This cocktail is among bartender Aubrey Slater’s favorites from the inaugural drink menu; there’s something about the slight twist on the classic recipe in the form of adding peanut and swapping the traditional base spirit that truly shifts the entire paradigm of what we know a Mai Tai to be. “We substitute peanut for almond and rye for rum in our version,” says Slater. “The citrus flavors of the lime and curaçao, mixed with the sweet, nutty notes of peanuts blend really well with the deep spice of the rye. This cocktail is destined to be a true modern American classic.”
We’d be remiss to not share this recipe with the world; try it at home and serve it with a side of your favorite Western on loop.
Created by Sother Teague
1 oz Old Overholt rye whiskey
1 oz Rittenhouse Rye
.75 oz Fresh lime juice
.5 oz Dry curaçao
.25 oz Heavy simple syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part hot water)
.25 oz Peanut orgeat*
Roasted peanuts, lime wheel, orchid (garnish)
Preparation: Whip shake all ingredients and strain over pebble ice in a double Old Fashioned or large rocks glass. Dash Peychaud’s on top. Garnish with lime, orchid, and peanuts. Serve with a short straw.
1/2 lb freshly roasted peanuts, still hot
1 qt heavy simple syrup
4 oz chunky peanut butter
Preparation: Purée all ingredients to liquify. Strain through fine mesh and store in glass bottle.