While cigarette smoke at bars may be out, smoke in cocktails continues to fill in the void left by the ban. It's almost as if the allurement between liquor and smoke is too intrinsic to divide apart.
At 15 Romolo, two cocktails shine as balanced examples of how smoke can add interesting depth to a drink without tasting like an ashtray or barbeque pit. Bar manager Jared Anderson's Socialites And Cigarettes ($10, rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, Angostura bitters, lapsang souchong tea tincture) is an elegant twist on a Vieux Carré. Dropping the Cognac for a full measure of rye whiskey and the blush of Peychuds bitters for the smoky tea tincture makes the drink a little darker, with smoke present, but not overwhelming it. It's like a rebellious socialite holding a lit Merit Ultra Light, all seductive and dangerous.
Taking a completely different approach, bartender Ian Adams produces a more relaxed but equally delicious Peach Blanket Barbeque ($10, Laphroig Quarter Cask Whisky, peach liqueur, lemon, Amaro CioCiaro, maple syrup, cayenne, pilsner). The smoky scotch is held in check by the pilsner and peach liqueur, with the cayenne adding light heat that contrasts nicely with the cold glass. While the flavors may be bolder, Adams keeps all the elements in perfect equilibrium.
Like the saying goes: where there's smoke, there's fire--and great cocktails.
15 Romolo, 15 Romolo (at Broadway), 398-1359