The Hurricane Club's Innovative Cocktail Menu
The Hurricane Club, New York's recently opened Polynesian-inspired supper club, offers one of the most inventive, festive cocktail menus to be found anywhere. In fact New York hasn't seen anything like it since Trader Vic's was shuttered more than twenty years ago.
The cavernous, yet sophisticated and beautifully decorated 13,000-square foot space is complete with fresh-cut palm fronds, orchids and an assortment of island flora. In the center of the main room, aptly called The Hurricane Room, is an enormous 40-seat tiki bar perched under a resplendent crystal chandelier, enveloped by a multi-tiered, cascading, gold-chained fixture.
Luxist had the opportunity to discuss the extensive cocktail menu with its creator, Richard Leach, The Hurricane Club's executive pastry chef. Leach, who won the James Beard Foundation Award for Pastry Chef of the Year (1997), also serves as the director of the restaurant's cocktail department.
The celebrated pastry chef's first foray into the cocktail world resulted in an impressive menu. He created 35 tiki-inspired cocktails, each with its own element of surprise, from how the libations are served to the interesting array of ingredients that are used to create them. Numbered and categorized rather than named, the drinks are large, frozen and occasionally afire. The restaurant makes many of its own ingredients including the bitters, which aged for at least a week. Hurricane Club cocktails are extremely visual and served in interesting and often edible vessels, from a hollowed out melon to a red bell pepper and a coconut.
Some of the recipes are traditional and by the book, while others are exotic, but just about all of them are garnished with fresh fruit (see gallery above for recipes). "I tried to evoke memories of the Trader Vic tradition," says Leach, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. who has been a pastry chef for more than 20 years. "I used unusual ingredients and created cocktails based on traditional ones." Those seeking a tiki-style cocktail might elect to order the #58, which is a $12 cocktail comprised of Brugal Dark rum, a caramelized banana, lime, mint and fresh cane juice.
For the more adventurous, there are cocktails made with exotic and unusual ingredients, including sour sop, orange flower water, chutney, vanilla beans and sour cherries imported from Germany. Several of Leach's cocktails feature Asian ingredients such as lemon grass and toasted rice syrup. For example, #73 is made with Knob Creek bourbon, fresh lime juice, jicama and cayenne pepper. Served in a pepper shell, this spicy drink is priced at $14. Another favorite is #77 is made with Monte Cristo Spiced Rum, coconut, passion fruit and cardamom, a member of the ginger family. Served in a coconut shell that has been hollowed out, it is priced at $17.
Leach also created shared cocktails that are reminiscent of the over-sized ones served by Trader Vic's during its glory days. Large enough to serve a party of five to eight people, they include the #450 which is made with Nigori saki, raspberries, lemongrass and mango (priced at $47) and the #410 which features Ketel One vodka, fresh lime, mint and rhubarb (priced at $59). A third shared cocktail, referred to as #440, contains Montecristo spiced rum, pineapple, kiwi and ginger and is served in a scorpion bowl with a flaming shot of Bacardi 151 at its center (priced at $46). Some drinks are served in melons while others are served in pumpkins or bowls.
See the gallery above for recipes from The Hurricane Club's cocktail menu.
Reservations to dine at The Hurricane Club can be made online or by calling (212) 951-7111