Grano Arso Cocktails: 'Simple, Stylish, Hits'

When Tiffany Nevers came on board as Grano Arso’s director of operations and beverage manager, she built the new Chester restaurant’s cocktail list according to the mindset she shares with chef-owner Joel Gargano. They previously worked together at Millwright’s in Simsbury.

“The way that Joel focuses on food is the way that I compose spirits,” she says of Gargano, who opened the contemporary, seasonally inspired Italian restaurant in November. “Attention to detail, [sourcing] locally when I can in terms of infusions, fresh juices every day.”

The attention to detail shows in Grano Arso’s stylish cocktails. The Rose’s Penicillin with Dorothy Parker gin, ginger, honey, lemon and rose water is garnished with a ice cube studded with chamomile buds. Not only is the presentation eye-catching, but it also adds a new element to the drink, Nevers says.

“As the cube starts to dilute, now we have a whole other flavor component,” she says. “You’re getting that nice floral note.”

Local touches show up in the Lani’s Martini, which has a base of Prairie organic vodka infused with fresh lemongrass from Higganum’s Wellstone Farms and is accentuated with tarragon, yellow chartreuse and lemon. The Lower Manhattan, Nevers’ variation on the bar standard, melds Ragtime rye with a little bit of Smith & Cross rum, and a mix of Antica Torino and walnut liquor for the vermouth component.

“They’re simple, they’re approachable, they’re hits,” she says. “I want my cocktails to be user-friendly.”

Grano Arso’s wine list is streamlined, with an emphasis on intriguing Italian bottles as opposed to traditional Napa Valley cabernets or even the ubiquitous pinot grigio. Instead, Nevers is more likely to offer a pecorino, “an interesting, beautiful varietal” to the white wine drinker, or encourage an adventurous diner to try a unique orange wine (a style of white wine where the grape skins stay in contact with the juice.)

“These wines are the standout wines, the ones that have the most unique expression, the most personality for what they are,” she says.

Grano Arso is at 6 Main St. in Chester. 860-322-3143, granoct.com. More about Grano Arso here.

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