Photo by Gabi Porter

The best time to claim a perch at Forcella Park Avenue's bar is right after work, when pesto-smeared bread is served gratis, and before the loud and hungry swoop into the dining room for chef Giulio Adriani's blistering flash-fried Montanara pizzas. Two-for-one beers might be this happy hour's biggest attraction, but knowing that Dushan Zaric -- of Employees Only and new booze brand the 86 Co. -- dreamed up the cocktail list, I splurged on the El Bloombito.

This elegant drink, at once bitter and bright, combines Santa Teresa "1796" Venezuelan rum with Campari, fresh lime juice and a touch of Zaric's own savory-sweet grapefruit cordial, the recipe for which he guards closely. "The rum holds the sweetness and the Campari together," Zaric notes. "It's a cocktail that keeps changing as you drink it." A mélange of anise, cinnamon, white pepper and sugar around the rim ensures a spicy depth to each sip.

Although the El Bloombito makes a fine prelude to the wine sure to be swilled at dinner, Zaric assures it's just as welcome a companion to pizza: "There can't be too much tomato sauce; you need meat, mushrooms or olives. It calls for something fatty."

El Bloombito

2 oz. Santa Teresa "1796" Rum

¾ oz. grapefruit cordial (
To make at home, Zaric suggests steeping 2 parts sugar with 1 part ruby red grapefruit juice)

½ oz. freshly squeezed lime juice

½ oz. Campari

Apply blend of anise, cinnamon, white pepper and sugar to the rim of a cocktail glass. Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass. Add large ice cubes and shake vigorously for a few seconds. Strain into the prepared cocktail glass and serve.

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