This Bowl of 'Ramen' Is Actually a Martini
At Hudson Yard’s Queensyard, the drinks aren’t as they seem.
There are plenty of buzzy restaurants at Hudson Yards. Kāwi, the Momofuku outpost, has a formidable menu from executive chef Eunjo Park, while Mercado Little Spain is the perfect place to while away an afternoon, hopping between the jamón & queso station, bravas kiosk, and everything in between. However, my last visit was all about cocktails—specifically, the recently debuted “gastrology” menu at Queensyard. Touted to be the first of its kind in New York and crafted by head bartender Jeremy Le Blanche (formerly of German Gymnasium in London), the menu blends the concepts of molecular gastronomy and mixology, resulting in six playful drinks with deceptive appearances. What looks like a glass of wine is made from vodka; a bowl of "yogurt" is actually a tropical gin fizz. I had the opportunity to try a few out myself, and their trompe l'œil effects made for a unique experience.
First up was “Depressed in Tokyo” (shown above), which pays homage to the mood-boosting benefits of Japanese cuisine—in this case, seaweed, which produces serotonin. The drink takes seaweed flavor and combines it with vodka and mint sake, all served in a chilled bowl to create the ideal temperature for a martini. It’s cool, refreshing, and the icy tones of the mint marry beautifully with the brine of the seaweed—plus, it’s a hell of a lot of fun to drink. Le Blanche modeled the presentation after a bowl of ramen, topping the drink with chopsticks and pairing it with a side of salmon caviar, soy caviar, and dehydrated seaweed. (The chopsticks are for eating the customary olive at the bottom of the martini, which, in this case, is soaked with mezcal and truffle.)
When the drink landed in front of me, the woman to my right was equally impressed. “I did it wrong,” she said ruefully. “I ordered a vodka soda. That’s a whole meal!” And it was, in a sense—Le Blanche instructed me taste the caviar first, which pooled in bright little orange and brown bubbles on my spoon, before taking a sip from the bowl. The salty bursts from the caviar helped amplify the drink’s savory qualities, creating a unique flavor profile. Needless to say, the bowl was emptied quickly.
“Cuvée Concept” was equally enchanting. While the name suggests wine, and the drink is indeed served in a wine glass, this fruity cocktail isn’t wine at all—instead, made from a pear vodka base and infused with notes of beets and berries. The glass is served in a detachable cup that comes on a log (seen above) with a smoking piece of incense on it. As for the food component? You get to enjoy a small plate of black grapes and blue cheese. Just like Depressed in Tokyo, Le Blanche recommends tasting the cheese first, to get savory notes on your palate—then, sipping the “wine,” all while inhaling sandalwood as the incense burns. It’s a nuanced sensory experience, and the notes of smoke, salt, and sweet make for an excellent pairing. If you were wondering, it does taste like wine, too—and for someone who loves red wine but often feels tired after drinking it, it’s a welcome change.
Other drinks on the special menu include “Le Saucier”—the tropical gin fizz masquerading as a yogurt—which includes a “tropical twist of Ramos fizz,” dry mango milk, orange blossom, and homemade eucalyptus gin, all topped with piña colada jelly. “Hiroki Sky,” on the other hand, is inspired by a book, Sola, written by Japanese chef Hiroki Yoshitake. Inside the glass, you’ll find a mix of morel-infused Toki whisky, sweet pistachio wine, and ginger ale—to match, a little ice cream cone filled with white chocolate and wasabi ice cream comes on the side. Prices range from $24 to $27 per drink, which is certainly more expensive than your usual cocktail. However, when the presentation of the drink is just as exquisite as the taste, it’s worth the splurge.
Queensyards’ gastrology menu is available now as part of the seasonally rotating specialty cocktail series.