Wednesday 25 April 2012

Amaro April: "Debbie Don't" from Dutch Kills

One bar I really wanted to include this time is an iconic name in the cocktail-scene - Milk & Honey in New York. Getting in touch with owner Sasha Petraske sadly revealed the news that M&H can't participate in any kind of press or promotion "that might increase walk-in foot traffic on Eldridge Street, due to the arrangement with the landlord," which is all fine and good and keeps them enigmatic, but on the bright side it gave me a new place to research a little bit. Sasha, who's behind several New York establishments, gave me his favourite Averna cocktail, courtesy of former bartender (and co-owner of the craft ice company, Hundredweight Ice) Zack Gelinaw-Rubin, at another of Sasha's bars, Dutch Kills in Long Island City.

Sasha, along with former M&H bartender Richard Boccato, opened Dutch Kills, named after the inlet that extends into the heart of Long Island City, in 2009 with a more accessible and older feel (and slightly cheaper prices) than the speakeasy-style, find-the-right-phone-number-to-get-the-right-password-to-enter-through-the-side-door-type establishments in NYC. Checking out the history page on their website reveals that this area of Dutch settlement in the mid 1600's also served as a British Army garrison during the Revolutionary war, unified into Long Island City in 1870, and was finally incorporated into the City of Greater New York in 1898, and this latter time period is really where the bar seems to take its inspiration in terms of history. Upon arriving at said website (, the music takes you right back to the late 19th century, and I'm ecstatic to find out that there are actual live bands playing ragtime and early jazz at the bar on select evenings. The drink menu is laid out like a turn of the century newspaper, complete with full recipes and instructions, and all of the drinks either fit in with the Jerry Thomas era, are simple classics from the 1930's, or new originals in the aforementioned styles. I love a simple, classic drink, and seeing something like a 2011 original, the "Bloody Knuckle," with just American rye, Aperol, sloe gin, and orange bitters, really gets me excited to have a drink (nothing against modern, creative mixology, I just find myself more interested in the simple and well-crafted). The outside is lit simply by a sign reading "bar," and the amount of brick, concrete, and wood inside and outside really transport you to saloon times - before Prohibition and its speakeasies.

As for today's cocktail, Sasha touts this as "the best Averna cocktail he's ever had," and it takes us back to Tequila, but this time in very different proportions with the Averna at a full ounce, and like the last couple we've seen, simple in concept as its just a Tequila sour. Maple syrup is something you'd see occasionally in post-Prohibition drinks, for example Quebec's Larry Denis cocktails in the 1940's, and the key with using it today is that you use actual maple syrup. Don't buy Aunt Jemima and mix it with your nice spirits.
You may notice that the brand of Tequila is not specified. This is because Sasha believes "picking the base spirit is really up to the individual bartender - it is not for the recipe author to dictate."

Debbie Don't

1oz Tequila Reposado
1oz Averna Amaro
0.75oz lemon juice
0.5oz maple syrup

Combine all ingredients with ice and shake. Strain straight up into a cocktail glass.

Please do check out the website, they have a list of some amazing drinks, with pictures, recipes, instructions, and sources listed both on the menu and gallery pages. I'm going to have to make some of these tonight! They also have an explanation of each type of ice they'll be using to concoct your tipple.
Next time I'm in New York, I'm going to make sure I have time to get to Long Island City, if just to see Dutch Kills, because immersing yourself into an era is the most exciting thing about exploring cocktails, and nothing will do that like ragtime and honky-tonk on an old piano, a polished wood bar, and a couple of well-crafted classic drinks. If you're there, do the same.
Thanks to Sasha and Zack for the contribution!

[[ See my post on amaro digestivos here ]]
[[ See my post on amaro aperivos here ]]
[[ See a buying guide for amaro here ]]

[[ See "The One Hit Wonder" from L'abattoir in Vancouver here ]]
[[ See "The Penny Farthing" from Pourhouse here ]]
[[ See an introduction to amaro  here ]]
[[ See "The Imperial Eagle" from Bourbon & Branch here ]]
[[ See "Sevilla" from Beretta here ]]
[[ See "Fallow Grave" from the Toronto Temperance Society here ]]
[[ See "The Black Prince" from Phil Ward here ]]
[[ See "Bad Apple" and "Jackson Ward" from Amor y Amargo here ]]
[[ See "The Four Horsemen" from Jay Jones at Shangri-La here ]]
[[ See Colin MacDougall from Blue Water Cafe here ]]
[[ See "Welcome to the Dark Side" from Cin Cin here ]]
[[ See "Foolish Games" from Russell Davis here ]]
[[ See "Intro To Aperol" from Audrey Saunders at Pegu Club here ]]


  1. I find the idea of a drinks menu with full recipes intriguing and makes a positive statement. Is that common?

  2. I agree completely. It's not common, no. In fact, I think this is the first time I've seen it. Most bars are very open about sharing recipes if you ask, and I've seen some very detailed descriptions on menus, but never full-on measurements and directions. I've only ever encountered one bar that refused to give any details on how the drinks were made, and I found that a little pretentious. This is a community of sharing and experimenting in my opinion.
    So yes, very positive and I love that Dutch Kills is doing it. The design of that menu is awesome too.

  3. I just made this cocktail and wow! So good. Thanks for sharing this. I used Partida Reposado as a base and it was a really smooth combination. I think maybe next time I'll try a bit less maple syrup but that's just a personal preference.