Harry Denton’s Starlight Room: Revamped with an Improved Cocktail Menu

Bar Manager Joel Teitelbaum squeezes lime for a Pisco Crusta

On September 6th, Harry Denton’s legendary Starlight Room will reopen, revamped, with brand new menus and look. Though the space wasn’t quite ready for a sneak peek, I did sample a few of the cocktails that will be on offer from bar manager Joel Teitelbaum’s winning menu.

Grouped together by time periods, the menu starts with the 1600’s and punch, ending with Starlight Room classics from great bartenders who have launched from here over the years (like Tony Abou-Ganim, Marco Dionysos, Jacques Bezuidenhout). Other sections include The Jerry Thomas Years (1860’s), The Dry Years – Prohibition (1920-1933), and Dark Times (1980’s – this one with updated versions of ’80’s hits like the Fuzzy Navel).

Humos Locos delights w/ Del Maguey’s Mezcal Vida,  slatey, creamy & smoky, balanced by lime & agave nectar, with a spicy finish from jalapeno-infused Green Chartreuse

Peppered with colorful quotes from W.C. Fields to Homer Simpson, the cocktail and bar food menus are playful and wide-ranging. They walk the fine, thin line of pleasing a steady stream of out-of-towners (due to the bar’s legendary status, location in the Sir Francis Drake hotel and on Union Square), but also giving locals and drink geeks strong reasons to stop in.

I sampled five drinks utilizing everything from pisco to calvados. Each was elegant and interesting, yet gentle and subtle enough to introduce (and hook?) the uninitiated on the likes of Scotch, mezcal, genever.

In my photo captions, I describe the cocktails sampled. I encourage you to head out to celebrate the re-opening of a legendary spot I suspect will not only be better than ever, but will finally offer what shouldn’t be a rarity in our fair city: well-crafted, artisanal drink and bites… with a stunning view.

In honor of 1800’s bartending legend, Jerry Thomas, the Right Turn converts the non-whiskey drinker with Wild Turkey Rye balanced by a dry but gently sweet Amontillado sherry, Benedictine, raspberries & orange

Pisco Crusta comes on the stem, subtle with red lychee tea and lime, sweet with sugar rim (traditional to a Crusta cocktail); using Encanto Pisco, it’s an easy transition for Lemon Drop fans but with more elegance






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Teitelbaum’s Smokey Local could be a modern-day classic as the cleanest, brightest peaty Scotch cocktail I’ve tasted (they tend towards the musky, heavy side); Merely 1/4 oz. of Ardbeg 10yr Scotch is mixed w/ Russel’s Reserve Rye, Manzanilla sherry, Luxardo Maraschino – it’s surprisingly light, not heavy-handed on any ingredient; could convert to non-peaty Scotch

Dutch Vice goes down all too easy: this one is so light & elegant, it could be sipped all day long; Bols Genever, Le Compt Calvados & Mathilde Pear Liqueur meld gently w/ lemon & egg white for a silky, soft texture