Geoffrey Zakarian knows a thing or two about cocktails. Long before it was fashionable, his acclaimed New York restaurant Town prominently featured an elegant bar and a list of drinks made from scratch. The head bartender was the then-up-and-coming Albert Trummer.
While Town and its counterpart Country are long gone, Zakarian has been busy. In addition to his duties as a frequent judge on the hit Food Network show Chopped, he just opened a pair of Big Apple restaurants, both of which of course offer tasty drinks. The National has a cocktail menu created by beverage director Rob Burns and the bar at The Lambs Club is run by master mixologist Sasha Petraske. “I didn’t expect to open two restaurants in two months,” Zakarian says. “It’s a good problem to have. I’m blessed.”
But it’s really no surprise that his restaurants are great places to get a drink. “When I talk food, I talk cocktails,” he admits. “I’m a big proponent of the cocktail revolution.” At home, he even has a small “Mad Men-like” bar, stocked with staples including the Scottish Hendrick’s Gin and the British Chase Vodka, which he calls “just remarkable.” He also is a big fan of aperitifs, such as Campari, Italian bitters, Lillet, sherry and Suze. “That, to me, really starts a meal off,” he says.
Naturally, Zakarian’s favorite drink served at The National is the Corpse Reviver #3, which is the perfect aperitif cocktail. The restaurant’s version of the classic is made with Lillet, Grand Marnier, absinthe and lemon juice. The celebrity chef likes to pair it with a branzino, salsify and sunchoke entrée. Who are we to argue? He’s the judge, after all.
Rinse a Champagne flute with absinthe to coat the inside and set aside. Add the remaining ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into the prepared flute. Wait until the foam settles and garnish with fresh grated cinnamon.