For the last 5 years or so, Michael White has had a stellar track record, delivering consecutive hits that pleased both hardened critics and diners (except for Nicoletta, but even Pixar made Cars 2). His restaurants stayed mostly within his comfort zone of Italian cuisine, but varied in price range and target demographic. His latest ventures though veer slightly from the proven path. A steak house (Costata, review soon) and The Butterfly, a cocktail-focused lounge.
I’ve always been a big fan of craft cocktails, and fondly remember the drink program at Ai Fiori, crafted by Eben Freeman as an excellent way to start off the meal. At the Butterfly, Eben Freeman’s creations take center stage. There’re no tasting menus to follow.
The name “The Butterfly” comes from chef White’s younger days, when he worked at a Wisconsin supper club by the same name. It’s also a fitting connection to Ai Fiori (Among Flowers), though that could be purely coincidental.
There are 10 featured cocktails on the menu, with a sketched representation next to each one. While most craft cocktail loungers in New York have a very muted, “there’s more flavor profiles than meets the eye” concept in cocktail design, many of the drinks at The Butterfly look cheerful. I mean, Mai Tai on West Broadway, I feel happier just saying that.
Many of the drinks, like the aforementioned Mai Tai, Tom Collins, and the Martini, are more about properly executing classics than to create something innovative. There’s a proper reason these drinks have stuck around for over half a century, you get to taste it at The Butterfly. On the website, there’s a nicely written history on each of the drinks, and the composition. It’s also the first time I’ve heard of slate-cured vodka.
Rusty Nail, also a half-century old classic, is properly updated here. The smokey scotch is replaced with an equally smokey Mezcal, and toned down slightly with reposado Tequila. I’m a huge fan of Mezcal, but not so of Tequila, so this was a unique combination. The original recipe’s Drambuie is upgraded with the barrel aged version. The drink is finished house made vanilla syrup, German bitters, and a slice of peel branded with the shape of a nail. I asked to see the custom brander, here it is.
What about food? After all this is still an Altamarea restaurant.
The bratwurst sliders with spicy mustard was filled with flavor, thanks to the housemade bratwurst. I should stop mentioning housemade, seems most things here are created in house.
The Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Biscuit takes the title as my favorite fried chicken in New York (Sorry “The Dutch”). What’s even better than the chicken is the housemade (again) honey biscuit.
Finally, for dessert, we ordered the “hot blonde”. This little cup of butter pecan ice cream is mixed with delicious soft blondies (a.k.a. lighter colored brownies) and lots of salted caramel. With these ingredients, there needs be no further adjectives. Delicious.
It seems that chef White has got another winner. Now how about trying a grocery store……
What does this rating mean?
225 W Broadway
New York, NY 10013