Published on May 28th, 2013 | by Regan0
Imbibe’s Afternoon Punch Break
By Regan Hofmann
One of The Dead Rabbit’s hallmarks is its “welcome punch,” a tiny teacup for every patron who sets foot in the bar, whether for an afternoon pick-me-up or a late-night last round. It’s welcoming indeed – a light sipper to tease the palate and prepare for whichever direction your cocktailing may take you. It was only right, then, that Dead Rabbit play host to Manhattan Cocktail Classic’s Saturday afternoon Punch Break, an opportunity for Classic-goers to relax, socialize, and steel themselves for the next few days of full-on cocktail madness.
There was no agenda for the event, no speakers or activities planned, just a row of beautifully ornate china punch bowls set atop the bar and friendly bartenders waiting to ladle you out an antique teacupful. Editors from Imbibe magazine acted as gracious hostesses, ensuring everyone had their fill. Even more gracious: Imbibe was raffling off an Ultimate Home Bar Kit from Cocktail Kingdom, which consisted of six coupe glasses, a Yarai mixing glass, bar spoon, jiggers, julep strainer and cocktail picks.
The brew, a special concoction developed just for the event, consisted of orange pekoe-infused BarSol Supremo, a Peruvian pisco. Layered overtop were fresh grapefruit and lemon juice for a tart citric tang, grapefruit sherbet for a sweeter note, Campari for an earthy bitterness, jasmine tea for a floral note, and tansy tincture to round it all out. Tansy, a flowering herb also known as mugwort, was a common herbal remedy and flavoring for drinks for centuries – it’s said that Jack Daniels himself used to drink his whiskey with crushed tansy leaves. In keeping with Dead Rabbit’s dedication to historical accuracy, the herbal tincture is made in-house and is used in several of their cocktails, alongside a number of other infusions and syrups.
The upper parlor floors of the low-ceilinged, 19th-century-styled bar filled quickly with cheerful partygoers, with the tables buzzing with conversation and the standing room by the bar areas filling with old and new friends meeting up after the extravagance of the previous night’s gala. At 3:30, the event’s official end, the atmosphere was still jovial and showed no signs of letting up.
Thankfully, it’s easy enough to hold your own mini Punch Break – just head in to Dead Rabbit on a rainy afternoon with a few friends. And to experience tansy’s unique herbal notes, try their Whiskey Smash à la Terrington, which employs the tincture with mint, lemon sherbet and Bulleit rye for a more complex take on the classic whiskey smash.
Regan Hofmann is an unaccredited supertaster who writes about food and drinks around New York City. She has lots of opinions, which she shares on Twitter.