Whenever I’ve spoken with someone about The Ghost Walks, which opened its doors last week in the Theater District, I’ve fielded some variation of the same question: “Are the drinks actually good?”
It’s a fair question, especially from anyone inclined to be skeptical of cocktails served in over-the-top vessels such as popcorn boxes and camera lenses. Indeed, the whole place seems to have been designed with the Instagram crowd in mind, from neon lights and striking artwork to the only champagne vending machine on the East Coast.
Even the name demands attention. “The Ghost Walks” derives from the opening scene of Hamlet, and apparently the phrase became theater industry jargon in the early 17th century. If “the ghost walks,” the box office had a good week; if “the ghost doesn’t walk,” the actors probably weren’t getting paid.
Taken together, it’s easy to assume The Ghost Walks is long on style and short on substance. Fortunately, the bar team isn’t short on talent.
More than a Pretty Drink
The Ghost Walks is led by general manager Peter Szigeti, who brings the same European-style cocktail techniques, ingredients, and emphasis on presentation that distinguished the Seaport’s Committee when he served as its opening beverage director several years back. Joining him as beverage director is Moe Isaza, formerly of Pammy’s and the Baldwin Bar.
Together, they ensure that The Ghost Walks’ drinks rise above their playful packaging.
The Paparazzi arrives in a camera lens, allowing you to enjoy the irony as you whip out your own camera to capture the moment. Inside is banana-infused Don Julio Blanco tequila, maple, aloe, and aromatic bitters.
You’ll feel like you’re ridin’ the rails with the Hobo Experience, a mix of vodka, Combier, papaya, basil, and lime, served in a brown paper bag.
Certainly the most extravagant offering is the Box Office – Bulleit bourbon, butterscotch, PX sherry, blood orange, and lemon, served in a popcorn box and topped with actual popcorn.
Here’s one instance where the presentation overwhelms the cocktail; I found it hard to reconcile the aesthetic with the drink itself and would be curious to try it in a more traditional vessel.
Simple is Good, too
Not every drink comes in a quirky wrapper. The Poderoso is a delicious combination of Bacardi 8, Montenegro, coffee liqueur, pineapple, and lemon. This is Moe’s baby, one that he took all the way to Mexico as part of the Bacardi Legacy international cocktail competition.
And the bar’s namesake, The Ghost Walks, is exquisite.
A mix of Johnnie Walker Black, Mad River PX rum, black walnut bitters, and Amontillado sherry, this is one drink where a photograph can’t even begin to tell the story.
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