Lower Manhattan is taking on a distinctly tropical vibe.
The bar and food scene below Houston has been trending toward the warmer climates, from the South of France vibes at Brookfield Place’s Beaubourg to the Cuban bar BlackTail from the team behind the world’s best bar, the Dead Rabbit.
This month brought Nobu Downtown, which relocated its flagship restaurant to 195 Broadway after 23 years in Tribeca (rent issues happen even to the biggest players). While the world-famous black cod miso and its other classics are accounted for in its subterranean dining room, the star is a breathtaking new street-level bar and lounge area with a menu straight out of Miami.
Beverage director Jad Marouche gave up the sunny climes of South Florida for a move to New York to create the all-new cocktail menu for Nobu Downtown. “In Miami,” he says, “drinks are more fruit-driven and sweeter,” a style he’s combined with the boozier cocktails preferred by New Yorkers.
The resulting list (all $18) is intensely refreshing, with the same breezy elegance that Nobu does so well. Cream and citrus are two things you don't normally find off the beach, which is a shame because there’s nothing as quenching as the Coconut Sake Fresca, enriched by coconut puree that undergoes a three-day aging process. Marouche is also a fan of infused liquors like pineapple rum in the DT Cooler and bergamot vodka in the Fulton St. Sour, trendy ingredients like yuzu and matcha, and a whiskey selection heavy on Japan’s “brighter and richer” varieties.
Craft beer fans will be surprised by the Japanese bottle selection well beyond the usual Kirin and Sapporo. “We’re starting to branch out a little bit more,” says Marouche, an acknowledgement of beer’s soaring popularity both here and abroad. “This is just the start of many more beers to come that are gonna be craft and microbrew style.”
To pair with your drinks, Nobu Downtown has also created a new signature bites menu, led by the absolutely addictive take on bar nuts that is panko-crusted fava beans, bite-size vegetable tacos overflowing with the fresh green goodies of spring and, in a nod to the customizable food trend, a Downtown Style Hand Rolls platter with all the sashimi, garnishes and sauces ready to be rolled up in nori sheets.