New York's chic Royalton, which started the boutique hotel craze when it first opened back in 1988, has just launched Forty Four (above), a stylish new bar / lounge curated by a team of all-star mixologists known as The Cocktail Collective. Occupying the hotel's former Brasserie 44 space with the addition of a square bar at what used to be the entrance to the restaurant, Forty Four's decor is a mixture of rich dark woods, leather upholstery, metal accents and innovative lighting. Selected from the best cocktail bars in the country, the founding members of The Cocktail Collective have created a menu of classics paying homage to the finest hotel bars for the new space. Meanwhile Royalton's Executive Chef Scott Ekstrom, formerly of Daniel and Oceana, has created a modern menu of small plates to compliment the cocktails including Black Lime Shrimp Cocktail, Parmesan Risotto Poppers, White Miso Tuna and Nueske Bacon Crisps.
The drinks list includes the Maiden's Prayer (gin, calvados, Cocchi Americano, and apricot liqueur served up with a twist); The Pharaoh Cooler (a tequila highball featuring fresh organic watermelon and lime juices, house-made grenadine, a hint of cane syrup and a few dashes of rosewater), and a Champagne Cobbler (champagne poured tall over crushed ice with muddled citrus zest, sugar, Peychaud's bitters and a crown of fresh fruits in season). In addition they've come up with a "punch" menu for large groups designed to replace "passé" bottle service. The founding members of The Cocktail Collective include Richard Boccato from Pain Killer in New York City; John Lermayer from The Florida Room in South Beach and Woodward in Boston; Simon Ford, a global cocktail ambassador based in New York City; Willy Shine from Contemporary Cocktails, Inc. in New York City; Misty Kalkofen from Drink in Boston; and Eric Alperin from The Varnish in Los Angeles.