Chef Jason Stratton is perhaps best known for the pastas and rustic Piedmont fare at Spinasse, but over at Artusi, the man’s a talented bartender as well. Photo: Lucas Anderson

Welcome to local writer-spirits guy Andrew Bohrer’s ongoing series charting the signature concoctions of esteemed local bartenders.

The Drink: The Pink Hook
Made By: Jason Stratton

One man’s interest in esoteric liqueurs is the next’s, “slutty love of maraschino.” That next man, to be clear, is Jason Stratton of Artusi and Spinasse. And just to get us all on the right track, maraschino, is a clear liqueur made from cherries and cherry pits. It originated in Croatia and has nothing to do with the red goo that besets otherwise chemical-free cherries. Geography and chemistry lesson aside, today we gather to talk about the Pink Hook, one of the signature drinks no longer on the menu but always available at Artusi.

The title is surely a play on the Red Hook, a drink created by Vincenzo Errico of New York City cocktail bar Milk and Honey in 2004—a drink considered to be one of the few modern classic cocktails. The Red Hook was an instant hit, but it is a drink that can easily fall out of balance. Stratton was actually inspired by another classic maraschino cocktail called the Aviation, switching the gin for rye. That started him down a path that lead him to the Red Hook cocktail organically. Adding grapefruit balances the sweet, funky spice in the maraschino. But the Pink Hook’s name, according to Jason, “is inspired by wanting to queer out an ‘established’ cocktail, turn it pink.”

The result is a drink inspired by the most serious of modern cocktails that, because of its newfound balance of grapefruit acidity, can now appeal to the mustachioed, sleeve-tattooed bar folk of Brooklyn to their cosmopolitan-quaffing, high-heeled counterparts uptown. Jason can best explain that in one sentence without mixing a metaphor: “It was gratifying to create a drink that did deliver some more mature flavors in a pleasing way to folks who would normally be averse to trying an Italian vermouth or rye whiskey.”

The Pink Hook
1¾ ounces rye
¾ ounce freshly squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice
½ ounce Punt e Mes
¼ ounce maraschino

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a flamed grapefruit peel.