Cocktails with a Sense of Terroir
by Sheila Swerling-Puritt
Paul Grieco is that rarest of things a young Canadian sommelier who moved to New York City and made it big.
Anyone familiar with Grieco's background isn't the least bit surprised by his meteoric rise. Paul Grieco is the son of the family that owned and operated La Scala, a Toronto landmark for decades where classic Italian cuisine served formally in a stately setting was the rule. It was here that he totally absorbed service and hospitality.
Running La Scala's beverage programme and managing the front of the house gave Paul the opportunity to study wine intensively and meet winemakers, tour vineyards and generally sponge up the culture of Italian wine and food.
In 1991 Paul traveled to NYC to discover their restaurant scene. He honed his service skills at a number of New York's most prestigious restaurants, including Bouley, Gotham Bar and Grill and the Gramercy Tavern, where he won both the James Beard Award for Outstanding Service in 2001 and the James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Service 2002.
He moved on from there to open Hearth Restaurant with Chef Marco Canora in the East Village. The restaurant immediately earned a glowing two-star review from The New York Times and still receives praise for Paul's expansive and thoughtful wine list. Hearth's Monday wine dinners, created by Paul, are instant sell-outs that explore new and established regions, vintners and varietals. Reviewers were wowed by "Grieco's passion for unearthing gems" to serve with the restaurant's food.
In April 2007, Paul and Marco opened Insieme, an Italian restaurant in the Michelangelo hotel. The Italian word for "together," Insieme features two menus, traditional and contemporary, side by side. To accompany the dual menu, Paul created a wine list matching the food's soulful spirit. Insieme has been voted one of the top 10 restaurants in the city of New York.
A workaholic like his father Charles, Paul recently opened Terroir, a "wine bar/restaurant" at 413 E. 12th St. Grieco wants Terroir to "sing with a sense of place." Only wine, beer and cocktails made from them will be served alongside pastas of the day, panini, cheese platters and other inexpensively priced fare.
Paul's mother Margaret used to make delicious infused grappas for special guests at La Scala, so it was no surprise to see that infusions are part of the Terroir cocktail menu.
Here's a scoop just for you: some cutting-edge Terroir cocktails from Marshall Altier, Head Mixologist at Insieme!
The sugar and bitters in this template are what define the drink as being in the "bitter sling" family.
- 2 oz. lapsong souchong infused sweet vermouth (Punt e Mes if you can find it)
- 1½ oz. Noilly Pratt Dry Vermouth
- Place 1 tsp. demerera sugar and a dash of bitters in the bottom of a mixing glass and muddle.
- Add vermouth and stir with ice.
- Strain into a cocktail glass.
To infuse vermouth: Funnel in 2 Tbsp of dried Lapsong Souchong tea leaves into the bottle of sweet vermouth. Let it macerate for 23 days before straining it off.
- Place a bunch of fresh mint sprigs in a shaker and gently bruise them with a muddler.
- Add 2 oz. juniper infused white port wine.
- Add 1 dash Angostura bitters.
- Shake ingredients and double strain into a champagne flute.
- Top up with chilled brut champagne or cava.
To infuse port: Sear 2 Tbsp. of dried juniper berries in a pan, being careful not to char them. Funnel into the white port bottle for 23 days, then strain and serve.
This is a surprisingly delicious and complex beer cocktail.
- ½ oz. simple syrup
- 1 egg yolk
- Dash of pomegranate molasses
- 5 oz. full-bodied fruity ale (any Belgian Abby Ale will do)
Shake the ingredients without ice (dry shake) to emulsify the egg yolk and then shake with ice and strain into a Collins glass and top with freshly grated nutmeg.
Gang of Four
- 1 oz. fino sherry (Lustau)
- 1 oz. Campari
- 1 oz. sweet vermouth or Punt e Mes
Build in a Collins glass and top with chilled ginger beer.
Where to find the restaurants:
- Terroir, 413 E. 12th St., New York, 646-602-1300
- Hearth Restaurant, 403 East 12th St. at 1st Av., New York, 646-602-1300, www.restauranthearth.com
- Insieme Restaurant, 777 7th Av., New York, 212-582-1310, www.restaurantinsieme.com
For more information, you can contact Sheila at email@example.com.