Gitane has been through some ups and downs in recent years, including the recent loss of chef Jason Tuley just after a solid 2.5-star Bauer review. But they're throwing some new punches at the bar—by debuting a seasonal punch program.
Known for its romantically dark and elaborate interior, Gitane is adding a rotating selection of two punches, which will change with the seasons, to its cocktail menu. The first of the current selections is Tilting at the Windmills ($10/glass, $40/pitcher), which relies on a Kappa pisco base, augmented with pink Italian aperitif vermouth Cocchi Americano Rosa, pineapple gum syrup, lemon, and allspice dram. The second punch, Ambrosio ($7/glass, $28/pitcher), combines Beefeater English gin, saffron herbal liqueur Strega, gunpowder green tea, and lemon.
Beverage director and general manager Sarah Knoefler is behind the new drinks. Her technique is derived from her experience as a sommelier, and her cocktails are designed to complement the meal, instead of serving as aperitifs or digestifs. The cuisine at Gitane draws from "gypsy inspiration," mixing flavors from northern Spain, the coast of Italy, and southern France. Knoefler plays into the theme by celebrating spirits from those regions and incorporating many spice-centric notes, like Allspice Dram and saffron, into the punches. As part of that same philosophy, Knoefler plans to always include at least one gin-based punch on the menu, even as the recipes rotate.
"The punches have all the classic elements of punch, but we are keeping it spirit-driven with touches of sugar and citrus," says Knoefler.
Aficionados will note Gitane's modern approach to punch, mixing together a slew of spirits opposed to incorporating the 19th-century tradition of oleo saccharum, which is a sugar preparation, or sticking to the classic rum punch's 10-part recipe. Knoefler is more focused on the blend of styles, cultures, and flavors. The preparation also allows them to offer a lower-cost alternative to the standard menu of cocktails, which sell for $12 each.
"We are taking the classic punch and twisting it around. That's the spirit the menu reflects, and that's the theme of the restaurant," says Knoefler. "The focus is giving it balance, while trying to keep it away from the sweet, sticky styles."