Food and wine are the draw at Fifth Floor (read here and here), but bartender Brian Means (formerly of Zero Zero) has created cocktails worth a stop all by themselves in the mellow lounge.
The unassuming Mr. Means creates some of the more promising recipes I’ve tasted from an up-and-coming bartender. As I judge multiple cocktail contests, his entries consistently exhibit a surprising level of sophistication, often placing high. He shakes (and stirs) with an unfussy hand, comprehending classic cocktail foundations, but varying off-path enough to keep it interesting.
Here are three of his cocktails I’d recommend, currently on the Fifth Floor menu:
Pink Elephant – Death’s Door (one of my favorite gins), with rosato vermouth, pineapple gomme syrup, orange bitters and smoked absinthe. Means doesn’t let the smoke overpower. Rather, it gives off a faint smoke aroma, hinting at brawn behind a delicate surface. Don’t judge it by its color.
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Playing like a classic, spirit-driven whiskey cocktail, it unfolds with layers of bitter, sweet, boozy, and thanks to the choco bitters, meaty, goodness.
Spanish Maiden – El Tesoro blanco tequila and elderflower liqueur with a lemon twist makes for an obviously pleasing aperitif pre-dinner, right?
Add in a dash of sherry and this bright refresher takes on depth and dimension, if ever so subtly, while still remaining stimulating and light.