A snowbird is a person who “migrates” from cold-er northern parts of North America to warmer southern locales like Florida, during the winter season.
For the city folks who can’t flock towards the temperate Equator… dash downtown to the Nolita-Little Italy border for heated “cabana” hangs. Backed by Den Hospitality, The Garret Cocteleria created ¡Winter in the Tropics!, a limited-time concept (for those dreaming of warm weather). Now through March 31st, chilly New Yorkers are invited on a tropical journey to the Latin-Caribbean coastline complete with frozen ‘tails and fresh Mexican fare (served in- and outside).
Set on Broome Street, the spirited pop-up proffers one hot ‘Hacienda Sunroom’ and five remote ‘Mezcal Cabanas’ decked in twinkling strings lights, Macchu Pichu pictures, and other nostalgic-for-warmer-weather décor. Heat lamps radiate the sidewalk space while island tunes drift into the street. Fuzzy stuffed alpacas (dressed in festive travel garb) greet thirsty guests too.
Cocteles from Beverage Director Max Stampa-Brown (formerly The Third Man and FREUD) come in cheery glassware – parrot, pineapple and cactus – to wash away winter blues. Each quirky vessel combines sweet, citrus, herbaceous, vegetal notes and various global spirits – displaying an easy three key descriptor on the menu for customers to interpret (then imbibe).
“Considering we’re currently heavy in the tiki realm here – and citrus season was upon – I tried to lean into brightening up variations on older, classic New Orleans and island-inspired drinks with blood orange and Cara Cara [navel orange] or grapefruit to bring nuance to drinks, like the hurricane or piña colada, that get a bad rap for being too sweet,” Stampa-Brown shares.
Like all patrons, Stampa-Brown mentally transports himself to paradise with the building of his resort cocktails. Parrot! at the Discoteca blends white rum, Aperol, toasted coconut, clean coconut water, lime juice, and… jerk seasoning, while Yuval el Salvavidas mixes smoky mezcal, Guajillo infused Oaxacan rum, mashed passionfruit and blood orange, and chili and coffee bitters – prompting us of sprinkled Spanish paprika (both tinge and tang, not texture) over sliced mango.
“Espinas y Cactus was one [cocktail] that was very apparent and obvious to me, from idea to execution. My goal was to incorporate cactus somewhere on the menu, but botanically brighten it up with dried or fresh herbs and bitter components,” Stampa-Brown mentions. Presented in a cacti-stemmed glass, Espinas y Cactus echos an “elevated daiquiri” with herbal-infused pisco, prickly pear (cactus) liqueur, bittersweet grapefruit, citrus lime, and gooey gomme syrup to tie together balance and body.
“Thyme, rosemary and sage (French bouquet garni) sits in the pisco for nine hours and comes out with this emerald hue ripping with a bright herby nose that makes you feel like you’re walking through a garden in the mountains of Peru,” Stampa-Brown describes. The result is stunningly similar to a herbaceous gin and tonic, specifically Fever-Tree’s Indian tonic water including oils from Mexican bitter oranges.
“We use the same Bouquet garni as the garnish in The Boozy Hot Jacuzzi [cocktail]. This cuts down on ordering more items for garnishing another drink and keeps everyone sane on the back end of inventory,” he notes. “When I cannot use the entire pineapple in The Place Beyond the Pina, I’m handing it off to our chef to use in the shrimp ceviche to give it freshness.” Tasty Mexican bites – think loaded nachos, tacos, and more – fly out of the kitchen per cocktail order (per city mandate) adding crunch and punch to every sip.
Here, we can observe accommodating New Yorkers finger-deep into fresh guacamole while clinking ceramic parrots and pineapples with friends on brisk nights. After all, ¡Winter in the Tropics! is a promising tropical destination south of stress.
Espinas y Cactus
- 1 ½ oz. Pisco infused with Sage, Rosemary & Thyme
- ¾ oz. Don Ciccio & Figli Fico D’India Prickly Pear Liqueur
- ¾ oz. Ponche Pajarote Grapefruit & Rosemary Liqueur
- 1 oz. Pink Grapefruit Juice
- ¾ oz. Lime Juice
- ½ oz. Gomme Syrup
- Flat Cactus Leaf
Glassware: Large Margarita Glass
Preparation: Combine all ingredients. Shaken and strain into a large margarita glass. Garnish with a de-spined flat cactus leaf (cut into a triangle).
“You must run a knife against the grain of the cactus leaf, so as to not leave behind any spines or surprises, and it’s a pain in the ass to get them all clean,” Stampa-Brown finishes.