Booze for Dessert: Sweet Cocktails from Chef Gates Otsuji

Drink Lists Dessert
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Narcissa Restaurant, located in The Standard, East Village (NYC), celebrates the “clean flavors and impeccably sourced ingredients” of California cuisine. Hotelier André Balazs named the locale after a beloved dairy cow that resides on his Hudson Valley farm, Locusts on Hudson.

Like any swanky venue, Narcissa has its own Chef de Bar, Gates Otsuji, who works closely with Chef John Fraser to make sure the flavors of his cocktails match the tastes of the entrees. “John sources high-quality ingredients, and has a wonderful way of both respecting the traditional aspects of his dishes while using production methods to innovate new experiences in texture & flavor,” Otsuji says. “Given the elevated palates of our guests, we could have chosen to go with a menu of amaro, brandy & whisky, but we decided, instead, to feature drinks which extend that experience.”

For those who prefer to sip rather than spoon their dessert, Chef Otsuji developed three distinctly different, decadently delicious after dinner cocktails. “One night last summer, I decided to have dinner at the chef’s counter in Narcissa, where I could watch the preparation and plating of all the dishes,” Otsuji says. “I watched the plating of our desserts throughout the service, and saw how much care was taken with each step of the process. I knew that I wanted each of the After-Dinner cocktails to focus on a different type of dessert flavor, and seeing the pastry department in action really underscored the need to break each cocktail recipe down to ensure care & attention from the very beginning.”

The challenge does come with re-presenting dessert cocktails to the modern diner: “After-Dinner cocktails have been much-maligned in the past decade, frequently seen as dated to the post-disco era—a dark period in the world of the spirits industry,” Otsuji says. “Contemporary dessert cocktails have to tread carefully, to avoid cliché while still satisfying traditional expectations.”

The Mint-Chocolate Chill

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In the words of Otsuji: The Mint-Chocolate Chill retains all the flavor points of the Grasshopper, but floats clean across your tongue, satisfying as ice cream on a hot summer day.

.75 oz. heavy cream
.5 oz. Chareau
.75 oz. White Crème de Cacao
1.25 oz. Crème de Menthe

Directions: Shake and fine-strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a spanked mint leaf.

The Coffee Cruiser

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In the words of Otsuji: La Colombe’s Nizza espresso blend has wonderful caramel notes and delicate toasted texture, which is a perfect match for the richness of Diplomatico Reserva, a luscious Venezuelan rum. In order to avoid a heavy-handed cocktail, the recipe is tweaked with Cynar, a bitter artichoke-based digestif, to balance the sweetness of the rum.

Dash of Angostura bitters
.25 oz. simple syrup
.75 oz. fresh espresso
.5 oz. Cynar
2 oz. Diplomatico rum

Directions: Shake and fine-strain into a Nick & Nora glass.

Peanut Bluster

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In the words of Otsuji: Dark chocolate & peanut butter is a winning combination that’s no surprise, hitting the sweet & salty flavor targets with a bull’s eye, but the texture of that flavor combination is crucial.

15g. creamy peanut butter
15g. Hershey’s Hot Fudge Topping
1 egg white
1 oz. sweetened condensed milk
2 oz. Vodka

Directions: Shake and strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with dark chocolate or black salt.

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