Skip to main content

This Restaurant’s Cocktail Menu Is Inspired by the Heritage of Its Employees

wild ink bartender matt
Francesco Sapienza

When you open the cocktail menu at New York City’s Wild Ink, you’ll notice that it’s not organized by spirit or flavor profile. Instead, you’re presented with a map of the world, and each cocktail is placed on the country from which it was inspired, representing the heritage of someone on the Wild Ink staff.

“Restaurants in New York are often a microcosm of the world,” Ariel Brodsky, Wild Ink beverage manager says. “I decided to take inspiration for the menu from the diversity of our staff, who come from far and wide.”

bar wild ink
Francesco Sapienza

When the bar team, led by Brodsky and Head Bartender Matthew Fitzgerald, decided to create the first iteration of Wild Ink’s globally inspired cocktail menu, they started with the countries and researched their food and drink culture. For example, the people of the Philippines are among the largest per capita gin consumers in the world, so the team created a cocktail with sloe gin, Italicus bergamot liqueur, black rice, and lime juice to reference that cultural touchstone.

“Restaurants in New York are often a microcosm of the world.”

“The USA cocktail [made with Laird’s Applejack, Ron Zacapa 23, brown butter, chestnut falernum, and bitters] pulls from my memories of New York City in winter as a kid — apples and roasted chestnuts,” she says. “The applejack we picked is from the oldest distillery in America, and the cocktail is essentially a split-based Old Fashioned, which was first mentioned in the Chicago Daily Tribune in February 1880.”

usa cocktail wild ink bar
USA Cocktail Francesco Sapienza

Brodsky admits she’s reserved when it comes to garnishing the drinks, but she does enjoy experimenting with ice and glassware to elevate the appearance of a libation. “In our Egypt cocktail, the angle of the cubed ice rises above the cocktail line in a way that is reminiscent of the pyramids,” she says. The coupe cocktail is indeed devoid of garnishes, but it’s a stunner nonetheless. The orangey-pink drink (mixed with Suntory Haku Vodka, turmeric, licorice, medjool date, and lemon), finished with that crystal-clear ice pyramid, is the type that instantly turns heads and begs the question from nearby tables, “What is that you’re drinking?”

egypt cocktail wild ink bar
Egypt Cocktail Francesco Sapienza

While Wild Ink’s cocktails are perfectly fine for sipping on their own, Brodsky was determined to create drinks that play nicely with the restaurant’s globally inspired Asian cuisine. “I think about cocktail pairings the same way I think about wine pairings,” she says. “Does it make sense? Does it overpower the palate? Are the flavors fighting each other? I do a lot of trial and error and a lot of research.”

Brodsky has worked with some of the most talented chefs in the world — think Jean Georges and Marc Forgione — so her goal has always been to craft drink menus that add to a well-rounded culinary experience, not compete with it. “At this point, I’m pretty good at knowing if something is going to clash or not,” she adds. “When in doubt, The Flavor Bible is an incredible encyclopedia of flavor matching.”

mexico cocktail wild ink bar
Mexico Cocktail Francesco Sapienza

Brodsky plans to continue with the global cocktail menu concept and add some new additions along the way. “I’ve always been obsessed with the ocean and I’ve been playing with infusing oyster shells into gin,” she says. “I think that would make an epic martini. I’ve also recently gone down the rabbit hole that is rum and all of its glorious iterations. The differences in flavor based on region and distillation style are insane.”

But when asked about the new countries and ingredients we can expect from Wild Ink’s spring bar program, Brodsky is leaving exact details to the imagination. “I don’t want to give anything away right now as we’re still in the development stage, but I can tell you it’s going to be a lot of fun,” she says. We have no doubt!

Editors' Recommendations

Amanda Gabriele
Amanda Gabriele is a food and travel writer at The Manual and the former senior editor at Supercall. She can’t live without…
A Guide to Going Vegan, It’s More Than Just Food

From reducing your risk of various diseases, losing weight, and feeling more energized to taking care of animals, reducing your carbon footprint and environmental impact, there are many reasons why you might want to become a vegan and the benefits associated with going vegan. "Going vegan" can mean different things to different guys. While some focus solely on removing all animal products (including meat, poultry, fish, dairy, and honey) from their diet, others commit fully to embracing a vegan lifestyle, eliminating all animal products or products tested on animals from their home, personal care products, clothing, etc.
Going vegan can initially feel like a sacrifice, as there can be many foods and go-to favorite products your new lifestyle will no longer support. However, the good news is that veganism is much more than a flash-in-the-pan fad; rather, it's been -- and continues to be -- a growing movement gaining support and popularity from consumers and brands alike. So, whether you’re putting aside meat, eggs, cheese, leather, and the like for the first time, are curious about vegan food products, or have been committed to doing your part for animals and the planet for years, keep reading for some of our top picks and recommendations for the best foods, drinks, clothing items, and lifestyle products for vegans.


Read more
Restaurant Robots and the Future of Dining
Top Burmese restaurant robot host.

One of the first things you notice at Top Burmese, an eclectic restaurant located in the Portland metro area, is the robot. His name is Milo and he's providing the restaurant staff some much needed help. Amid a climate of social distancing and overworked restaurant personnel, Milo is something of a saving grace.

Related Reading

Read more
The 21 Best Halloween Cocktails for Getting Your Boo-ze On

Halloween is upon us, which means haunted houses, slasher flicks, and tasty novelty cocktails. Last year, we stayed in watching Halloween movies, rightfully scared of the pandemic. This year, with things beginning to bounce back, we're putting on our best wigs and looking for a reason to celebrate.

There are two routes one can take when it comes to hyper-festive holiday cocktails. You can go the corny route (looking at you, St. Patrick's Day green beer), or you can embrace the day with a proper cocktail drink that's as good as it is reflective of its spooky context. We're not above a cocktail made with Freddy Kruger's blades or garnished with a witch hat and broom. But you can still have fun without having to hunt down all of the related kitsch. Here are 21 of the best cocktails to whip up this Halloween.

Read more