Even if there’s not a chill in the air yet, fall is already here. From the annual rollout of (and backlash against) pumpkin-spice everything to weekends being taken over by football, summer is now officially over. And with the new season come all sorts of new opportunities for lovers of food and drink. Here are the most important new bars, restaurants, spirits and cookbooks you should check out this season.
WHERE TO DRINK:
Freehand Hotel, Los Angeles
When Broken Shaker opened in the original Freehand Hotel in Miami in 2012, it helped kick off a modern tiki revival that’s seen sophisticated tropical cocktails sweep the nation. The bar and hotel both expanded to Chicago in 2015 and opened in downtown LA just a few weeks ago. The SoCal edition of the Freehand has three separate bars: The rooftop, poolside Broken Shaker, which specializes in fruity rum concoctions; Rudolph’s Bar & Tea, a lobby bar with tea-infused cocktails and light bites; and The Exchange, an Israeli-inspired restaurant that serves seasonal produce-focused cocktails—along with a wide selection of raki, an anise-flavored spirit popular in the Middle East. (The next stop for the Freehand chain is New York: A Manhattan location, with its own Broken Shaker of course, is set for early 2018.)
The Aviary, New York
Chicago chef Grant Achatz is known for his high-tech molecular gastronomy, creating dishes unlike anything ever seen before at his restaurant Alinea, and his cocktail-bar equivalent The Aviary does the same for cocktails, presenting drinks in wildly unexpected formats. The spot’s been a huge hit in the Windy City since 2011, and its New York sibling should be open by the end of the month. Set on the 35th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the 90-seat bar features sweeping views of Central Park along with its futuristic beverages.
Academia, Austin, Texas
You might know Russell Davis as a cocktail expert from Spike TV’s Bar Rescue, and he’s turning to science and technology to build a better bar in Austin. Set to open at the end of October, Academia not only looks like an Ivy League faculty lounge but is also designed to incorporate insights from social and behavioral science to create a better bar experience. Davis worked with Grammy-nominated sound engineers HumanMusic to create custom playlists that sync up with guests’ heart rates, as well as with the technical and lighting director for Cirque du Soleil to build color and lighting schemes to influence guests’ moods. The place is even programmed to release ambient scents to help build its environment!
WHERE TO EAT:
Theodore Rex, Houston
Houston native Justin Yu is among the hottest names in food: His Oxheart won him three James Beard Award nominations in a row for Best Chef: Southwest, including a win in 2016. Early this year, he announced he was shutting down Oxheart and completely renovating the space to transform it into Theodore Rex. The new spot will have a somewhat more casual feel (and an a la carte menu, as opposed to its predecessor’s tasting menu-only format) but retains many of the same staff in the kitchen, bar and dining room. The spot was set to open at the end of August, but flooding from Hurricane Harvey has delayed it a few weeks.
New York Comes to Los Angeles
A quartet of top New York chefs are taking their talents to the City of Angels this fall. The NoMad Hotel will be open in downtown by late fall, with food and drinks by original chef Daniel Humm and star bartender Leo Robitschek. In nearby Chinatown, David Chang, the chef behind the Momofuku empire, will open his first LA spot, North Spring. Chang’s keeping details close to the vest, but North Spring plans to be open by the end of the year. Meanwhile, in Hollywood, Spotted Pig and The Breslin chef April Bloomfield is set to debut The Hearth & Hound in mid-October. (Oh, and Mike D.—yes, Beastie Boy Mike D.—is helping curate the wine list.) And at popular outdoor shopping mall The Grove, celebrity pastry chef Dominique Ansel is bringing his famed Cronut and other baked creations to the West Coast for the first time with a two-story combination bakery and restaurant that opens in early November.
Nonesuch, Oklahoma City
The first tasting menu-only restaurant in Oklahoma City, the ambitious Nonesuch has been attracting nationwide attention. Chef Colin Stringer gained fame (and an Eater Young Guns nod) in 2015 with an illegal underground supper club called Nani, and now he’s teamed up with a local restaurateur to build this 20-seat marvel that opens October 4. The 8- and 12-course menu options feature nearly exclusively ingredients grown or made in Oklahoma.
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, New York
Joël Robuchon is perhaps the world’s most decorated chef, with restaurants in a dozen cities worldwide that have racked up a total of 28 Michelin stars, more than any other chef. This Meatpacking District spot, overlooking the famed High Line, represents Robuchon’s triumphant return to New York after a previous edition of L’Atelier closed in 2012. Expect high-end French cuisine executed with Robuchon’s signature precision and perfection in the main restaurant, along with a more casual atmosphere and nice cocktails in the front-room bar.
WHAT TO DRINK:
Compass Box Phenomenology Blended Malt Scotch Whisky ($180)
Compass Box founder John Glaser has made his career upending Scotch traditions, regularly putting out delicious whiskies that break old-school rules. This latest release plays with the subjectivity of tasting Scotch—do you taste notes of, say, apple and chocolate in a whiskey because they’re really there or because the person pouring the whiskey told you they’d be? Phenomenology is a blend of malt whiskies aged for different amounts of time in different types of barrels, but Compass Box is releasing absolutely no information or tasting notes. The spirit launches in the UK October 1 and in the US November 1, but the company won’t reveal any details about it until December 1 to allow drinkers to form their own opinions. (Compass Box will give individual drinkers the details ahead of time, but only once they’re already posted their own opinions on social media.)
Avuá Jequitibá Rosa Cachaça ($70) & Novo Fogo Colibri Cachaça ($35)
Whether it’s whiskey, wine, brandy or beer, if you’re going to be aging booze in barrels, they’re almost always made of oak. Except, that is, in Brazil, where there are dozens of varieties of native wood used to age cachaça, the relative of rum that’s the national spirit of the country (not to mention the base of its famous Caipirinha cocktail). Both of these new bottlings are good examples. The Avuá ages for up to two years in barrels made from the dense jequitibá rosa wood, which gives it rich fruit and subtle floral notes, while the Novo Fogo Colibri moves back and forth between traditional oak and casks made from Brazilian teak, also known as amburana, giving it both tropical-fruit and roasted-toffee notes.
Diageo Special Releases 2017
Diageo is the largest spirits company in the world, and it’s heavily invested in Scotch: Besides the famous Johnnie Walker brand, Diageo also owns 29 operating distilleries in Scotland, along with warehouses full of barrels from even more distilleries that are no longer in business. Every fall, the company pulls rare selections from those vast stores to create a series of truly special releases. This year’s batch features 10 different limited-edition bottlings, ranging from the $130 Lagavulin 12 Year Old to the $3,500 Port Ellen 37 Year Old. Two highlights are the caramel-apple Blair Athol 24 Year Old ($460) and the smoky but incredibly well-balanced Caol Ila 18 Year Old ($100). Just move fast: These spirits are in high demand.
Old Duff Genever
Philip Duff has been working in the bar business for almost 20 years, serving as a consultant to spirits brands and bars around the world as well as director of education for the annual Tales of the Cocktail convention. He also previously ran a bar in Amsterdam, where he learned Dutch and fell in love with genever, an ancestor of gin that originates in the Netherlands. He worked with a 200-year-old distillery in Holland to create his own brand of genever, which just launched last week in New York. There are two genevers: a more modern version made from a mix of spirits distilled from barley and from wheat, and the old-school 100-percent Maltwine, made from all barley.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye Whiskey ($27)
The classic Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey is distilled from a corn-heavy mash very similar to bourbon; what makes it Tennessee whiskey instead is that it’s slowly filtered through maple charcoal before going into barrels. Well, the distillery’s newest product uses the same charcoal process but starts with a mash that’s mostly rye. It has some of the pepper and spice that differentiates rye whiskey from bourbon, while the signature charcoal-mellowing process keeps everything nice and smooth. Bottles are now rolling out to distributors and will be in stores nationwide in the next few weeks.
WHAT TO READ:
Meehan’s Bartender Manual, by Jim Meehan
When he opened New York’s PDT in 2007, Jim Meehan helped kick off the speakeasy trend, and in 2012, the bar scored the first James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program. Now Meehan has distilled his bar expertise into this combination recipe book and bar industry guide. Available starting October 17, it includes 100 recipes from across Meehan’s career, along with advice from him and other experts on bar design, menu development, mixology techniques, the art of hospitality and more.
Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert, by Davin de Kergommeaux
Davin de Kergommeaux is the world’s foremost expert on Canadian whisky, and his 2014 guide to the category was perhaps the first comprehensive guide to the many delicious spirits produced in our neighbor to the north. Well, whisky in Canada is growing just as quickly as it is here, and next week, de Kergommeaux’s putting out an updated edition with 100 all-new tasting notes, a new chapter on Canadian micro-distilleries and a map of all 49 operating Canadian whisky distilleries.
Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian, by Lidia Bastianich
Not content with a series of acclaimed restaurants, a PBS TV show and eleven previous tomes, the legendary chef Lidia Bastianich has a new cookbook coming out October 17. It applies her signature laid-back Italian style to entertaining, with recipes for cocktails, dips, pastas, mains and desserts, along with advice on being a successful host whether you’re throwing a romantic dinner for two or a birthday party for a couple dozen toddlers.
The New Wine Rules, by Jon Bonne
There are lots of classical rules about when to drink what and which wine to pair with which food. Longtime wine writer Jon Bonne says they’re almost all wrong in this new book, subtitled A Genuinely Helpful Guide to Everything You Need to Know and set to be released on November 14. With its simple and friendly advice on buying, storing and drinking wine, it’ll make you a happier and more confident wine nerd.
Super Tuscan, by Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar
Debi Mazar is a lifelong New Yorker, an actress who’s had roles in everything from Goodfellas to Entourage. Her husband Gabriele Corcos grew up on an olive farm outside Florence. Together, they’ve been combining American and Italian flavors on their Cooking Channel show Extra Virgin for five seasons, and this, their first cookbook, comes out October 3. It includes more than 100 recipes based on the seasonal cuisine of Corcos’ home region.
Moto: The Cookbook, by Homaro Cantu
When he opened Moto in Chicago in 2003, Homaro Cantu catapulted to fame as an advocate of molecular gastronomy, using modern science and innovative techniques to do things like print edible menus with food-safe ink, carbonate fruit that would fizz when you bit into it and cook fish inside a clear box right in front of diners’ eyes. Cantu tragically took his own life in 2015, but this book brings his techniques to the public for the first time, with recipes for 10 dishes from each of the 10 years Cantu ran the restaurant.