Coffee and booze are a beautiful mix, but a beverage marriage sadly relegated to the occasional espresso martini.
No more. And for that, we can surprisingly thank ... Starbucks.
The coffee giant opens their Starbucks Reserve Roastery New York on Friday, located in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District.
Inside? A coffee- and tea-themed cocktail joint.
While there are three other Roasterys around the world — specialized stores with a particular focus on rare single-origin coffees and experimental drinks (nitro hopped apricot cold brew, Juniper Lattes, etc.) — the New York edition is the first U.S. location to include a full bar, called Arriviamo.
We got a sneak peek before the Friday opening. Surprise: Starbucks may do booze better than they do coffee.
Starbucks Arriviamo Bar (5 images)
What does it look like?: This is Starbucks on steroids. Or the Eataly for coffee (wish we had thought of that). Covering multiple floors and 23,000 square feet, the store doubles as a working coffee roastery (specializing in the Starbucks Reserve coffees), while also featuring two cafes, a bakery, the aforementioned cocktail bar and a retail shop.
It’s a decidedly open space, offering unobstructed, 360-degree views and the thrill of watching and hearing roasted coffee beans shoot through overhead symphony pipes down one of the cafe bars. There’s a lot of artwork, including a 10 ft. statue of the Starbucks siren (via Brooklyn artist Max Steiner), and wood and copper accents abound.
The bar itself is on the top mezzanine, with small tables overlooking the Roastery and a long bar that stretches out comfortably along the floor. There should be no shortage of seats.
What am I drinking? Overseen by mixologist Julia Momose (of Chicago’s Green River Restaurant and the new bar Kumiko), the drinks here all feature Starbucks coffee or Teavana tea as their base; the Black & White Manhattan, for instance, utilizes beans from the Starbucks Christmas Blend.
It’s a well-stocked bar — there are over 200 different bottles — and there’s certainly an attention to detail here. The bar batches their own homemade syrups, and all the mixologists go through barista training.
You’re welcome to order a classic cocktail, but the menu does hold a lot of promise. While we enjoyed the Caffe Crusta (a cold brew/brandy concoction) and the Roastery Old Fashioned (Starbucks Reserve cold brew, Nikka Japanese whisky, Amaro del Capo, New York maple syrup and Balsamic Vinegar of Modena), the green-tinted Final Say (see above) was a standout. It’s a riff on the Last Word ... without containing a single similar ingredient (this version is a blend of Matcha, tequila, Liquore Strega, Roots Masiha, Royal Combier, lime, coffee-infused Amarena Cherry). It hits all the taste notes (sour, sweet, etc.) and the tequila, a replacement for gin, boldly announces itself without overpowering the rest of the drink.
What about non-cocktail options? A common (and well-deserved) menu complaint about cocktail bars is the lack of attention paid to anything beyond, well, the cocktails. Not a problem here. At launch, Arriviamo offers nine beers (seven on tap) and 12 wines (all but one available by the glass). We particularly like that eight of the nine brews hail from New York, a nice nod to the store’s host city/state.
As well, the bar offers several “spirit-free” beverages that show more care and thought than the usual non-alcohol offerings. We tried the Siren’s Glaze, a coffee/hazelnut/cocoa/Acacia honey and coconut milk offering that was certainly elevated in both taste and preparation (note: you can also get the spirit-free option with booze)
Not drinking? Head to one of the two cafe bars and get a made-to-order java, pretty much however you want — they offer seven different brewing methods, from pour over to Chemex.
Now, about those prices ... Brace yourself. The spirit-forward cocktails are $20-23, and the spirit-free concoctions are $16 ... prices you’d expect to find at maybe The Aviary but few other traditional cocktail joints. Admittedly, hospitality is included, but you’re really paying for ambiance, presentation and real estate.
Given that the prices at the Roastery cafes are also quite high — albeit for coffees you’re not gonna find anywhere else — this isn’t unexpected. Still, it immediately turns Arriviamo from a neighborhood stop to a, dare we say, more tourist-forward destination.
What about food? There’s Milanese Princi bakery on hand for all your lunching needs — and it’s certainly a step up from reheated breakfast sandwiches.
Should I go? Yes, but given the location — the Roastery is sandwiched between an Apple Store and the Chelsea Market — and the high prices, we see Arriviamo more as a place to bring your out-of-town guests than a neighborhood local.
Still, what could have been a gimmick or a glorified coffee theme park turns out to be a rather high-end experience.
A drinking pro’s tip: Remember how we said all the drinks are coffee- and tea-based? Don’t have more than two if you go at night — as we discovered, sleep will not come easy.
The Starbucks Reserve Roastery New York opens Friday, Dec. 14 at 8 a.m.
Photos: Matthew Glac Photography. Additional photos by Kirk Miller.