The Knickerbocker Hotel
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The Cure-All: Smoked Apple Sour at the Knickerbocker Hotel
Zach McGrath may look like a dashing young thing born and bred for the silver screen, but in reality he is far more influential: as a rockstar bartender at the Knickerbocker Hotel in Times Square. It’s not just the panache with which he wields a smoking gun, a muddler or a cocktail shaker: the proof is in the drinking. The item that I keep coming back for more is the Smoked Apple Sour, with heady, fragrant fumes in a snifter glass. It is a riff on the Whiskey Sour, which was first mentioned in a local Wisconsin newspaper in 1870. But it has grown into its boots well, and McGrath’s version is a seasonal one (the traditional version uses whiskey or bourbon, lemon juice, sugar and sometimes a dash of egg white), using muddled red delicious apples, honey, cinnamon-infused syrup, fresh lemon juice, Cruzan Black Strap rum and George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey. Don’t let the ounces fool you: this tipple just about knocked me over like a heavyweight feather. McGrath serves the drink in spades along with the martini, which was created there. The beautiful Beaux Arts-style hotel, built in 1906 by John Jacob Astor IV, served as home to its illustrious residents including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Enrico Caruso, who once opened the window of his room to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Imagine what it must have been like to hear his heavenly voice in Times Square. The drinks menu at the Knick is long, but it is heavenly, and McGrath brings us one step closer to the stars.
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