Finishing its fourth year, GRUPO GITANO returned to New York City this summer with their extraordinary open-air restaurant and mezcal bar, GITANO Garden of Love.
Set in a 24,000 square-foot tropical “garden” with a lush canopy (of coconut palms), the seasonal concept occupies an entire Hudson Square city block at the intersection of Soho and Tribeca.
“Back in the middle of Winter 2018, we were asked if we wanted to bring GITANO to New York City, and although I have personally lived and worked [here] for many years (and love this city), I initially thought of GITANO’s next locations as beach, tropical, exotic…”
– Founder James Gardner
After touring the empty, undeveloped lot then, Gardner had a very strong vision of GITANO in New York City. But first, he had to locate a tree farm in Florida once realizing they could not import palms from Mexico. “[I] found the price of a 30’ coconut palm tree, and decided we could do the project!” he explains.
“Next, I started sketching. I drew a long [stone] runway down the center of the property and our iconic wood entrance pergola with a pink neon sign at the top [of the runway], knowing that with the Freedom Tower backdrop, we had another Insta- moment!” he adds. “From design to debut in three months. A project that under normal conditions could take years.”
Twin pergola dining decks and a 40′ reflecting pond (with a waterfall) further frame the city skyline – reminding guests of the concrete “jungle” they are in. In the center: a mezcal mecca. The cubic bar (beneath a circling disco ball) spotlights diverse mezcal producers in the hands of dynamic bartenders – shaking, stirring, even muddling mezcal into unique cocktails and over-sized punch bowls.
The agave-driven drink list includes:
- Jungle Fever, a Gimlet mimic with Gem & Bolt Mezcal, “Jungle Syrup,” and fresh lime juice; tall cilantro twig and mini chili pepper for presentation.
- Kisses in the Car, a bright blend of Pierde Almas Small-Batch Mezcal, Ron Zacapa Rum, agave nectar, and passion fruit juice; capped with a habanero pepper.
- Alma Vieja, a fierce friend of the Old Fashioned with Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Bruxo Mezcal, and orange cordial plus peel (and rosemary sprig) to garnish.
- Mezcal Flight, highlighting four independent mezcal producers, like Banhez Mezcal.
“Strictly no plastic [at the bar] – we have wheat and agave straws. We use wooden fruit crates for storage, [and] we maximize shared ingredients with the kitchen to reduce waste (i.e. cilantro and chili peppers),”
– Founder James Gardner
GITANO Garden of Love serves “gypsy-modern” Mexican cuisine cooked on an open fire. Pairing suggestions include the fizzy Gypsy Disco 75 with the branzino in a cooked banana leaf with chaya and kiwi, and the refreshing Jungle Fever with anything, particularly the Truffle Tlayud per Gardner. Served daily, the Jungle Brunch menu boasts a new wagyu-bison burger, while the prix-fixe package suggests “cocktail party” options – exciting enhancements without major menu changes.
“People seem to like what we are doing and we are certainly grateful for that. We are in the process of planning permanent locations in New York City and other locations – all to be announced,” Gardner closes. “The stars [certainly] aligned on this incredible project.”
- 2 oz. Gem & Bolt Mezcal
- 3/4 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
- 3/4 Jungle Syrup (home-made jalapeño pepper infusion)
- Cilantro Sprig
- Chili Pepper
Preparation: Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Strain over ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with a cilantro sprig and chili pepper.
“The Jungle Fever is our most famous and popular cocktail [at GITANO],” Gardner leaves.