Mixing Cocktails With the Crystal in Mind
May 21, 2015
Originally published in The Wall Street Journal
Filed under: Cocktails / Food & Dining
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When it comes to creating new cocktails, glassware isn't typically the first thing a bartender considers.

But not at the Bar at the Baccarat Hotel, located in the namesake hotel and residence space in Midtown, where all the glassware, from Harmonie cut crystal tumblers to Chateau Baccarat champagne flutes, is from the famed French crystal maker.

"I'm fascinated with the glasses now," lead bartender Anthony Merlino says.

Mr. Merlino estimates that the bar, which opened in mid-March, has between 25 and 30 different Baccarat glasses in use; they are estimated to range from $100 to $260 each. Even the candle votives ($310) are Baccarat, and the staff uniforms include delicate Baccarat jewelry.

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The signature drinks menu spotlights French spirits.

The pale pink La Vie in Rose cocktail (Lillet Rose, Citadelle gin, grapefruit juice, Campari, Ruinart Rose Champagne; $24) is served in the tall, slim Mille Nuits Champagne flute ($175).

"It's such a beautiful glass that we created the drink based on the shape of the glass," Mr. Merlino said.

One of the best-selling drinks, the Suzette ($24), features Grey Goose vodka, Suze, mint, fresh lime and cucumbers; it is served in the Harmonie highball glass ($135). Another best-selling drink, the classic Hemingway daiquiri (Rhum JM 100, lime, grapefruit, Maraschino; $22) arrives in a $260 Champagne coupe from the Harcourt 1841 collection, the oldest in the Baccarat archive.

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Broken glasses are a fact of life for all bars. Mr. Merlino says that in three months, he's personally broken two glasses. He estimates that on busy nights, between five to 13 glasses are damaged. That number is actually low, relative to the number of people served at the bar, Mr. Merlino, a 15-year industry veteran, says. He adds that a typical high-volume bar will break between 15 to 20 glasses a night.

Customer carelessness isn't one of the reasons for breakage, however. "I noticed that the guests really are concerned about the glassware," Mr. Merlino says. "They see that it's a valuable crystal piece in their hand."

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