The reinvention of the restaurant spaces inside Park Avenue's Seagram Building - in the legendary space formerly occupied by the iconic Four Seasons - by the team from Major Food Group is quite possibly the biggest restaurant development of the decade in New York City, and on October 23 the newest concept opened there: The Pool Lounge, in the space that was formerly a private dining room overlooking the Pool Room (now called just The Pool).
Veteran mixologist Thomas Waugh, the restaurant group's director of bar operations, has created 14 cocktails that will be served in the lounge, alongside small bites from chef/partner Rich Torrisi. These cocktails are unique in that they're all based around (and named for) one star ingredient, which, as Waugh puts it, is "amplified" in several applications in the drink. For example, the Grape, inspired by the pisco sour, is made with Concord grape jelly, muddled fresh grapes, pisco, lime juice, elderflower liqueur, and Angostura bitters, and is garnished with a cluster of grapes. The Tomato is made with heirloom tomato-infused vodka, elderflower liqueur, cucumber-infused absinthe, tequila, lemon juice, and muddled tomato. And the Cucumber is made with cucumber-infused absinthe, muddled cucumbers, sugar, and lime juice, and is served in a coupe ringed with sliced baby cucumber. These are truly unique cocktails, and they really do amplify their star ingredients and showcase them in a way that only a great mixologist (or a star chef) can.
The room itself is stylish and modern, and remains faithful to architect Philip Johnson's original 1959 Modernist design. The textured mother of pearl bar, tall back bar, onyx and nickel cocktail tables, curved seating, deep blue wall textiles, and modern floor lamps were designed by William Georgis; and Marie Nichols' gold, brass, and bronze chain curtains were meticulously cleaned and restored. The end result is one of the city's most stylish cocktail lounges, in one of its most renowned restaurant spaces.
The Pool Lounge is the third concept to open inside the former Four Seasons space, joining The Grill (a meat-centric restaurant helmed by chef/partner Mario Carbone) and The Pool (a seafood-heavy concept from Torrisi), which both recently opened to great acclaim. They'll soon be joined by the Japanese-inspired Lobster Club in the space's lower level (formerly occupied by Brasserie), and Major Food Group has brought on board chef Tasuku Murakami of Michelin-starred Sushi Abazu to run the kitchen. To learn about the 101 best bars in the world, click here.
Here are the full cocktail and food menus at The Pool Lounge:
An herbal salute to the whiskey-driven Negroni variation, the Old Pal, with chamomile-infused rye and Campari, with elderflower liqueur further boosting the chamomile's floral aspect; a spray of house-made chamomile tincture serves as fragrant garnish.
A decadent old fashioned with Mexican flair, extra añejo tequila gets a citrus and spice kick from a Don's Mix-inspired medley of fresh grapefruit and cinnamon, topped with a cinnamon stick and a long grapefruit peel.
A thinking person's screwdriver, it combines gin, freshly-crushed sweet clementine oranges, lemon juice, mandarin orange liqueur, house-made passion fruit purée, and a touch of Aperol; it is garnished with a lime rind horse's neck.
A rehabilitation of the exiled apple martini, with cold-pressed Granny Smith apple juice marrying with rye, calvados, Thai basil, and lemon juice and adorned with an opal basil crown.
A spicy dirty martini variation with jalapeño-infused tequila replacing the gin and dry sherry and Cocchi Americano stepping in for vermouth, with its heat balanced by cooling muddled cucumber and crowned with a jalapeño pepper.
Cucumber-infused absinthe is muddled with cucumbers, sugar, and lime juice and is presented in a coupe ringed with micro-planed baby cucumber slices.
Inspired by the pisco sour, this ultimate grape cocktail features pisco, lime juice, elderflower liqueur, Concord grape jelly, muddled fresh grapes, and Angostura bitters, all topped with a grand cluster of frozen grapes.
Reposado tequila joins amontillado sherry, banana liqueur, lime juice, and house-made ginger syrup; a baby banana is its garnish.
A tropical whiskey sour made with Japanese whisky, house-made mango purée, lime juice, and vanilla balanced by the bitterness of Aperol; a scored, inside-out mango rind tops this crowd-pleaser.
A cheeky mash-up of the daiquiri and the mojito, featuring white rum, vanilla, and lime juice, with shiso taking the place of traditional mint; it is garnished with an exuberant half-moon sliver of watermelon and shiso leaves.
A tomato cocktail that is decidedly not a Bloody Mary, with heirloom tomato-infused vodka, cucumber-infused absinthe, tequila, lemon juice, and muddled tomato; elderflower liqueur amplifies the floral and herbal notes, and three tiny cherry tomatoes on the rim serve as garnish.
In this tropical gin cocktail, house-made Tri-Star strawberry purée is complemented by the tang of kalamansi limes and lemon juice, blanc vermouth, and pastis; a strawberry-bearing rosemary skewer is its garnish.
A union of the classic blinker and paloma cocktails, it melds blanco tequila, raspberry purée, lime and grapefruit juice, and pompelmo soda; garnished with fresh raspberries.
House-made fresh peach purée is ennobled with gin, Jamaican rum, lime juice, crème de pêche liqueur and both Angostura and orange bitters; it is adorned with a fresh peach wedge.
Caviar Service: A choice of trout roe, sea urchin, baeri and golden ossetra is served with a full complement of tiny blini, toast points, crispy potatoes, and halved, medium-boiled eggs.
Spot Prawns: Delicate crustaceans are brushed with olive oil, lemon juice, and sea salt.
Oysters by the Half Dozen: Ultra-fresh mollusks are bathed in pickled green tomato juice and topped with wasabi.
Crudités: Radishes, tomatoes, celery, fennel, carrot and red pepper stand in a platter of crushed ice, with a dipping sauce of crème fraîche enriched by a layer of caramelized Vidalia onions.
Toasts: Seemingly simple yet highly complex flavor bombs.
Tuna - Served tartare-style and imbued with house-made harissa on olive bread toast.
Sea Urchin - Ultra-fresh uni floats atop spicy mustard-doused pretzel toast.
Anchovy - Marinated fillets married with piquillo peppers and lemon on sourdough toast.
Crispy: Tempura-style delights served with a green Tabasco and avocado dip and tarragon aioli; choose from broccoli, calamari, and snow crab.