Richard Scoffier creates serious amounts of cocktails for the South Fork, even preparing kegged-up concoctions for Townline—beer isn’t the only pour, anymore.
Long Island Pulse: What’s your favorite cocktail?
Richard Scoffier: The new-fangled, a play off an old fashioned. That’s one cocktail I hope to see on bar menus as an old man. It’s McKenzie bourbon from Finger Lakes Distilling, orange bitters from Fee Brothers in Rochester and sour cherry liqueur from American Fruits in Warwick. We add our own boozey cherries made with upstate sour cherries, cognac, rye, maraschino liqueur and bitters and rim the glass with sugar.
Pulse: You have kegged cocktails at Townline.
Is this a new trend?
RS: Tap cocktails are indeed popping up. We do Texas tea, which is Old Overholt rye, passionfruit-peppermint tea, fresh lemon juice and agave nectar. We make a four-gallon batch, keg it, carbonate it and serve it on tap like a beer. There’s a real difference to carbonating an entire cocktail rather than just splashing in club soda.
Pulse: Which is?
RS: The cocktail has more carbonation and marries differently. Also, it saves us time… you can do it as quick as pouring a beer. I’m going to toy with clarifying agents to battle the floating sediment, though. We also do possum ridge paralyzer, a spicy lemonade with a sugar-washed moonshine from Dutch’s Spirits. I want to use the clarifying agents to make a spicy, alcoholic Sprite. People wouldn’t expect a clear liquid to taste like that.
Pulse: Talk to us about summer drinks.
RS: The berry Rosado at Nick & Toni’s. It’s a sangria-type drink with rosé. I was having people over and we only had vodka, raspberries, lemons and rosé. It worked out lovely. I call it my brunch punch. For Nick & Toni’s we use raspberries from our garden, the rosé is from Wölffer Estates and Prohibition’s Bootlegger 21 Vodka is from upstate, so everything in the drink is New York; most of it within a 10-minute drive.
Pulse: Anything else we should look for this summer?
RS: We have a traditional mai tai at Nick & Toni’s that I’m proud of. I read this article talking about how it fell out of favor in the 1980s. A traditional mai tai is light and dark rum, curaçao, lime juice and orgeat syrup—a sweet almond syrup that’s fortified. The article ended with “I’ve never had a better drink than this. The rums, the lime, the orange aromatics and the heft of the almond all play in stupendous balance.” I thought, wow, I need a mai tai. For six weeks I experimented with 15-20 rums and curaçaos, half a dozen homemade orgeats, and all these combinations. When we finally landed the drink, it was unbelievable. You got the acidity, the booze, the sweet—this progression of tastes.
Richard Scoffier thinks the experience of taste is visual as much as it is flavor.
photo: eric striffler