NY de Fleur, served at the TY Bar in the Four Seasons Hotel New York (57 East 57th St.), has to be one of the most beautiful drinks in the city. The first sip of a NY de Fleur—with its colorful orchid sealed in ice and floating in a cocktail made from Ketel One vodka, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, Louis Roederer champagne, and fresh lemon juice—will transport your thoughts to spring, whatever the temperature may be outside. We spoke with Justin Milazzo, director of food and beverage at the Four Seasons New York, about how the flowery libation came into being.
What was the inspiration behind NY de Fleur?
When trying to come up with a new spring cocktail, we wanted to create something that encompassed the essence of TY Bar, a stylish Art Deco– inspired space with a bespoke cocktail menu influenced by 1920s and ’30s libations. The prohibition era, often referred to in America as the “Roaring Twenties,” did not affect Europeans in a way that limited consumption. Most Europeans referred to this time frame as the Golden Twenties, and in France, as the années folles (wild years). Unlike in America, Europeans could drink freely, which resulted in one of the gaudiest, most decadent eras in French history.
What is NY de Fleur’s connection to that period?
We wanted flavors that were used in the exuberant libations that came out of France during this exciting era. The name we chose for the cocktail was based on the popular French symbol, the fleur-de-lis. In French, fleur means flower and lis means lily. The symbol has been used to represent royalty and is said to signify perfection, light, and life. We took that as inspiration to introduce a light floral and citrus-based cocktail with an unforgettable presentation. Not to mention, St. Germain is a French liquor made utilizing age-old French techniques. They have a tagline describing the flavors, and we felt it fit perfectly into the flavor profile and theme we were looking for: “Neither passionfruit nor pear, grapefruit nor lemon, the sublime taste of St. Germain is a flavor as subtle and delicate as it is captivating.”
What was the concept behind the flower frozen in an ice cube?
The orchid was chosen because it was an edible flower, and the vibrant color popped inside the ice sphere, enhancing the presentation of the drink. In addition to being edible, the orchid has a slight floral flavor, which, as the sphere slowly melts, complements that of the St. Germain and pairs well with the citrus notes in the drink.
The drink uses elderflower, which is made from the flowers of the elderberry. What other flower-based liquors do you work with?
Although not on our current menu, we have looked at introducing Rosolio (rose petal liquor) to a special Valentine’s Day cocktail in 2017.
How popular is the NY de Fleur?
The drink did so well once we put it on the menu it became a signature cocktail of the bar. We have sold over 2,000 NY de Fleur cocktails in the past year, all with positive feedback.