Kitchen 713's global soul food cuisine has built buzz since well before the restaurant moved to Washington Avenue in the final days of last year. But the old Canal Street location didn't have a liquor license. It took a relocation for the restaurant to begin building a reputation as a cocktail destination. And the menu that's garnering buzz? It was curated solely by chef James Haywood, co-owner with fellow chef Ross Coleman. Intrigued by such names as “Fragmented Glory” and “Abstracted Zen," we popped in this past weekend to sample some of these uniquely named drinks and get a first peek at the new spring cocktail list, launching as you read this.
Chef James and general manager Nynechia Afriyie, who has been a loyal patron since Kitchen 713’s inception and became a beloved team member at their new digs, greeted us upon arrival to give us the rundown of Haywood's inspiration behind one of his favorite drinks: Fragmented Glory, which is staying on the menu for spring along with other notable favorites True Carats, Charred Grapefruit Paloma, Abstracted Zen and Wonder of Isan.
Influenced by his love of Szechuan dishes full of chiles and peppercorns, mixed with the smokiness of cooking in a wok, Fragmented Glory is a carefully prepared cocktail with many elements working together in every sip. Smoke flavors from the mezcal, herbs and spices blend with the drink's citrus notes and are topped off with drops of chile oil. We were hesitant at first, but with the chili oil lightly speckled across the top of the drink, the heat stays only on your lips, without any burn going down.
One of the highlights of the spring menu is "Mules Off," an all-mule menu also launching this spring, including the Hibiscus Mule and Masala Mule. At first glance, the deep purple colors and floral fragrance of the Hibiscus Mule make it seem like this libation would run on the sweeter side, so we were pleasantly surprised that the ginger cut through sweet for a refreshing, yet still boozy taste. Both Haywood and Afriyie, who collaborated on the spring cocktail menu, have a penchant for cocktails that taste like they haven’t forgotten they are cocktails and have a buzz to them. Rounding out the mule menu are Melon, Stone Fruit, Kentucky and Jalisco, all incorporating seasonal ingredients to complement the spirits and ginger beer.
Already buzzed, we got to sample some of the brand new spring cocktails with more one-of-a-kind names like: The Botanist, Preacher's Anthem and the Blooms of Amarillo. Inspired by the colors of Springtime, the Blooms of Amarillo incorporates the superfood of the moment turmeric, which lends the drink its bright yellow color, blended with basil and mint to complement the grassy notes of Leblon Cachaça. We paired ours with the Thai fried chicken, a must-try dish. Preacher's Anthem celebrates one of the founding fathers of Bourbon, Elijah Craig, and packs a serious punch. Rounding out the rest of the new list are: the Cucumber Sour, Rhubarb Collins, Smoked Rum Punch, Berry Brazilian and 420 Old Fashioned.