by jason scavone
In the great and timeless Pantheon of Sexy Things, Champagne and Scotch inevitably occupy the same rarified strata at the absolute top of the game — along with handcuffs and Bea Arthur. (Wait.)
Thankfully, in this grand month of love, romance, and hastily and cheaply purchased lingerie off Amazon, there’s one place that brings the two together: The Cromwell’s tucked-away gem of a cocktail bar, Bound. (That’s what the handcuffs are for, right?)
Nestled in a corner of The Cromwell floor, Bound is done up in rich black, gold and shades of brown, with sensual materials festooning everything from the cushions to the curtains. The bar is the baby of international man of mixology Salvatore Calabrese, who made his mark at London’s Playboy Club.
It also features a section of the menu devoted strictly to Champagne cocktails, which is, if not guaranteed to rev your date’s engine, at least ups your odds considerably. Worst case scenario: you accrue a little extra James Bond swagger by ordering bubbly — which should help you land a better date next time.
But let’s go back to the sublime meeting of Scotch and Champagne, where Old World sophistication meets even Older World sophistication in some kind of boozy “suavenado” (sweats). Don’t tell Ian Ziering. The Cromwell Fizz puts these two unlikely bedfellows together in one glass, building a base of Macallan 10-year, house-made honey, lemon juice, egg white, a generous topper of Moët & Chandon Imperial, and then carefully dot ting it with three drops of bitters.
The honey and Scotch nod to a Rusty Nail, but the bubbly smooths everything out to a degree that’s surprising. Scotch doesn’t dominate the drink, which is no small order. There’s a bit of a floral touch at the end, courtesy of the fine beekeepers who contributed to this tipple. There aren’t many Scotch drinks that can pass as “delicate,” but the Fizz fits the bill.
“Delicate” is a bit of a through-line here, like in the Bunny Bubbles. Originating, fitfully, from Calabrese’s time at the Playboy Club, the Bunny starts with a raspberry puree, pomegranate juice, then builds up with Bénédictine and another helping of Moët.
The fruit is so fresh, there’s an ethereal quality to the cocktail, like it’s the final evolution of the Wimbledon bubbly-and-strawberries staple. Bénédictine, normally reserved for your grandma’s liquor cabinet (because she has excellent taste and a long memory, naturally), adds a bit of sweetness and a hint of herbaceousness, but not so much it impedes the fruit.
Though in the Velvet Rosa, there’s no way to impede the fruit. Atlantico Platino rum mingles with peach schnapps, cold-pressed cranberry juice, white peach and Veuve Clicquot. There’s no doubt about this being a fruit-first drink, with the peach jumping right to the front of the line. Yes, you could go for a basic brunch-staple Bellini, but the rum adds a little charge here, while giving nothing away in the peach department.
But if you really want to mix it up and make liquor the star of the show, opt for the Big Spender. At $61, the cocktail is aptly named, but it delivers Gran Patrón Platinum tequila, Cointreau, agave nectar, cranberry and Dom Pérignon. It also comes with a Calabrese signed $1 bill tied around the stem of the glass, so you get a rebate.
If your chief complaint was that a margarita didn’t have enough Dom in it, then you’ve come to the right place. The tequila takes charge of the drink like it’s 50 Shades of Patrón. Even though the Dom submits, it’s still secretly the star of the show, just like in plenty of, uh, nontraditional arrangements.