Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Strangely New York: At Last, Have Your Martini and Eat It, Too

2nd Avenue Deli New York City Martini
By Mitch Broder

Last week I brought you the new downtown place that makes food inspired by drinks.

So this week I bring you the new uptown place that makes drinks inspired by food.

The downtown place is Jane’s Sweet Buns, in the East Village, which sells things like raspberry tartlets containing gin. The uptown place is the 2nd Ave Deli, on the Upper East Side, which sells things like gin containing half-sour pickles.

The 2nd Ave Deli just opened on First Avenue, which in itself reveals something of an appetite for the incongruous. And with the incongruous address has come improbable concoctions like the Apple Latke Martini, the Dirty Pickle Martini, and the Lokshen Kugel Cocktail.

2nd Avenue Deli New York City Apple Latke Martini, Dirty Pickle Martini, Lokshen Kugel Cocktail

The premise was that you don’t see a lot of drinks based on Jewish food. The deli opening seemed as good a time as any to make some seen. Jeremy Lebewohl, who owns the deli with his brother Josh, convened a cocktail caucus, and in a few weeks had a drink list perhaps unprecedented in Judaism.

The Apple Latke is made with potato vodka, apple sauce, and lemon, and is garnished with a potato pancake, also known as a latke. The Dirty Pickle consists of gin, or the vodka of your choice, along with pickle brine, garnished with a half-sour pickle.

The Lokshen Kugel is the most complex, comprising rum with pineapple purée, peach schnapps, vanilla, cinnamon, lemon juice, and non-dairy creamer. It, too, is garnished with its namesake, which is sweet noodle pudding. The deli also serves potato kugel but that is not yet in liquid form.

2nd Avenue Deli New York City Vintage Brunch Destination
There are five other original cocktails, like the 2nd Ave Balanced Diet, which is Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray Soda with gin and plum brandy and a celery stick. But those first three are reportedly the leaders out of the gate, which is not surprising, since between celery and pancake, which would you choose?

Your mixologist Jeremy suggests the Dirty Pickle for pastrami sandwiches and other meat dishes, whereas the Apple Latke and Lokshen Kugel, he says, would pair better with pierogen and blintzes. His co-creator David Teyf concurs, though he adds that the Dirty Pickle also works well with lox, herring, and assorted smoked fish.

I imagine that Jane of Jane’s Sweet Buns will like Jeremy’s food-laced drinks. But I have reason to believe that Jeremy will like Jane’s liquor-laced pastries. Among his own cocktails he is partial to the one made with orange vodka, Dr. Brown’s cream soda, chocolate soda, and orange juice. It’s called the Creamsicle.

2nd Avenue Deli New York City Vintage Destination

Mix it up at the 2nd Ave Deli, 1442 First Avenue, at 75th Street, in Manhattan.


  1. Is it wrong to want to try all these drinks?? Finally...martinis you can enjoy before 5pm (the Creamsicle sounds great anytime). Great find. Great combination of old and new. Let us know when the potato kugel makes the drink menu.

  2. The Creamsicle does sound mighty interesting! I'm wondering when they will come up with the 'Mudslide' to both acknowledge the greatness of chocolate covered matzo as well as the recent spade of rainy days we've had. It would go great with any vegetable dish I believe. Thanks for the find!

  3. What I want to know, my favorite writer, is did YOU try any of these? If so, which was best, and if so, did you make it home OK? A very interesting "twist". I would of course go for the latke as well. No question.