60 New Reasons to Visit the Financial District’s Best Bar, the Dead Rabbit
I’ve loved The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog since Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry opened their Irish bar in Manhattan’s Financial District back in 2013. The elegant, but totally unpretentious cocktail parlor upstairs is just the place for wee cups of punch (and if you’re in the mood for something faster, the sawdust-covered ground floor is a truly great spot for a beer).
Last summer, Jillian Vose quietly took over as head bartender, where she now expertly breaks down ice from the 25-by-25-inch blocks delivered there twice a week. Last weekend, she introduced a menu with over 60 new cocktails ($15 each), many of which focus on Irish whiskey, of course.
One of these new beauties is the Psycho Killer, a gorgeous, gothic red concoction with roots in a cocoa nib-infused Campari that Vose once served at Death + Company, where she was previously head bartender. “Chocolate and Campari go great together, but it’s a temperamental infusion,” Vose told me over the phone, explaining how cocoa nibs can create a dry and bitter flavor.
To soften and complicate the chocolate-Campari pairing, Vose uses creme de cacao and Redbreast 12-year whiskey, along with Giffard’s banana liqueur and absinthe, building an incredibly rich, elegant, drink with a grownup kind of ‘Christmas cake flavor.’ It’s one of those cocktails that makes perfect sense right now, when some days it’s so cold you can’t feel your fingertips.
The Bare-Faced Liar, which Vose served at the launch party last Sunday, is made with Dubonnet Rouge, a slightly fuddy duddy French fortified wine that can be tricky to work with. Vose paired it with Jameson Black Barrel, beet syrup, and a half-rim of toasted fennel salt. “But I don’t want it to taste like you’re a drinking a salad, so I added a fruit component as well—raspberries and beet go great together.”
Not all of Vose’s new cocktails feature whiskey: Try the Heretic, the only drink on the menu dosed with St. Germain, and you’ll get a refreshing chill of pine liqueur, muscat wine, and gin, with a float of lemon oil.
The Dead Rabbit’s menu has always been presented as more of a book than a menu—a long, dense, and plotted narrative with a hero. This one, featuring the deeply researched story of Lewis M. Pease, a social reformer and former minister, includes excellent illustrations by Drinksology and a fine essay by David Wondrich. You’ll want to spend some time with it, ideally over an Irish coffee.
Truth: My favorite Irish coffee in New York is the one at Fort Defiance, a tiny bar in Red Hook, where the brackish water laps away at Brooklyn, but the one at Dead Rabbit is excellent. And fans, rest assured, Vose may have updated the menu, but she hasn’t altered the Irish Coffee that much. It used to be made with Powers Gold Label, and now it’s Powers Signature. You'll live.
The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog is at 30 Water Street (Financial District); +1 646 422-7906 or deadrabbitnyc.com