Brandy Crusta at Shanahan's
The drink: Maraschino Liqueur is nothing like the neon-colored cherries that came in your Shirley Temples. This multifaceted, very aromatic liqueur — one of the few liqueurs that is distilled — is a delicious retro spirit that many bartenders are wild about today. It dates back to 1821, when the Luxardo family first began producing it from Marasca cherries (a sour cherry variety cultivated exclusively by Luxardo) aged for two years in vats of Finnish ash wood (a wood that does not lend its color), then diluted and sugared. And it's a key component in the Brandy Crusta ($10) served at Shanahan's, made from cognac, orange liqueur, Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, lemon juice and bitters, served with a whole lemon rind in a glass with a sugar-crusted rim. I was thrilled to find the drink on the list of specialty cocktails, and it was every bit as delicious as I imagined it would be.
The place: Shanahan's is not the kind of place you want to drink a Shirley Temple, either. The bar at this new steakhouse is lovely, and definitely geared for the sophisticate set. It's usually full of captains of industry and all that goes with them (think beautiful blondes, large diamonds, really large breasts). Management has clearly made service a priority, and the staff is extremely accommodating without being overly stuffy. When I stopped in recently to try the Brandy Crusta, the only people I saw who were under thirty were on the staff — so don't expect to be drinking Car Bombs with a guy in a baseball cap.
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