A Negroni “like Mama used to Make…”
An exceptional lists of classics and innovative serves…? No wonder Dante New York City is rated 16 in the World’s top 50 bars…
Review by Catherine Fergusson
When someone told me that I was about to visit a bar rated Number 16 in the World’s 50 Best Bars, I couldn’t help but be a little dubious. Firstly, why is it Number 16 out of 50? Surely it should be number 16 in the world? Secondly, how do you even rate the top 16 bars in the world? Is it the drinks, the food, the ambiance, the location, the bartenders?
When I got to Dante, I very quickly decided that I didn’t give two hoots about the answers to any of those questions. There’s something about the place, an aura, a vibe, something that makes you realise that you’re really going to love the place.
Seated at the bar, joining the bustling ‘after-work’ crowd, we learnt a thing or two about the evolution of Dante to its current incarnation. The original Cafe Dante first opened its doors in Greenwich Village in 1915, where Italian immigrants would meet to talk of home and politics over an espresso. Fast forward 100 years and all manner of beatniks, neighbours and famous faces have passed through the doors, leading to Dante 2017, where the owners believe that, “everything old is new again.”
True to their Italian roots and historical integrity, they have an exceptional cocktail list of classics and innovative serves, with some wonderful Negronis, “like Mama used to make.” I’m starting to wonder if I had a deprived childhood; my Mother has definitely never made me a Negroni, although she does knock out a pretty mean G&T, so I’ll cut her some slack.
After a little festive white port and tonic to whet the whistle, our bartender, Keaton, (“Batman or Diane, whichever you prefer,” he informed us with a grin) reliably informed us that kicking off with a Negroni was the only way to start a night at Dante. With $10 Negroni Sessions daily from 3-6pm, it would be rude not to.
Keaton whipped me up a ‘Mistaken’ Negroni for starters. It sounds so much better in Italian, the Sbagliato Negroni, a phrase allegedly coined when a busy barman grabbed the Prosecco instead of the gin bottle to top up his Negroni. A pretty happy accident, if you ask me…
Next up was a little seasonal number called Autumn, since the mixologist figured it was a little bit quirkier than ‘Fall’. Calvados, Sauternes, pear, dry vermouth, smoked maple and allspice with a little star anise thrown in for good measure. Frosty mornings, conkers and crunchy leaves, all wrapped up in a glass.
The cocktails are fantastic, undoubtedly some of the best I’ve ever tasted, but Dante is so much more than just the cocktails. It’s cosy and intimate, the drinkers round the bar are happy to share their stories over a Negroni or two and the bartenders are positively unflappable. It’s a must for any trip to the Big Apple.
Enquires: Dante, 79-81 Macdougal Street, New York City 10012 / www.dante-nyc.com