Booze Hound: The Old Bell at Henley
Booze Hound: The Old Bell at Henley

The pride and joy of the bar program at self-described Midtown brasserie Henley may be the Manhattan Experience happy hour, but the rest of the cocktail menu doesn’t suffer for it. Try The Old Bell, Henley’s intriguing twist on an Old Fashioned. The main ingredient is Belle Meade Bourbon, hearty but not overwhelming. You get sweetness from Licor 43, tangy fruit notes from orange bitters and a paper-thin orange-slice garnish, a little body from amontillado sherry, and a hint of licorice at the finish from absinthe.

On paper, it might seem overly complicated, but in the glass it’s exceedingly mellow and a pleasure to sip with a meal or on its own. Speaking of the glass, the cocktail is prepared “up” (chilled but served without ice), in a frosted cocktail glass — maybe it’s my imagination, but that seems to enhance the smoothness. Reflecting the overall feel of the restaurant, the cocktail is welcoming yet sophisticated. It’s not cheap — The Old Bell is $15 — but it is easy to love. 

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