This Is What Happens When You Give New York’s Best Bartenders a Light Switch and Tell Them to Invent a Cocktail

These high-concept drinks are objets d’art in their own right.

Jeff Bell
General manager of PDT New York; partner at PDT Hong Kong.

Inspired by Bon Bon Boxes, Tina Frey Designs

“Looking at the design of the Bon Bon Boxes, the first thing you notice is the pastel colors: blue, pink, and yellow. The second thing is the rounded edges, which have a fun, almost nostalgic persona that feels very midcentury. The same goes for tiki drinks, which were common in the eighties but went out of style until recently. This one, called The Shark, is actually on our menu year-round at PDT. It’s a modern take on a throwback. The blue color, yellow lemon, and pink umbrella mimic the containers. Both are new and fun.”   

Bon Bon Boxes


1 1/2 oz. butter-infused rum
1/2 oz. Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum
1/3 oz. Frangelico
1/3 oz. Senior Blue Curaçao
3/4 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. pineapple juice
1 dash Bittermen’s Tiki Bitters
1 dash cream

How To Make

  1. Shake with ice, then strain into a chilled-rocks glass filled with pebble ice.
  2. Garnish with a lemon wheel and an umbrella. 

Meaghan Dorman
Bar Director, Raines Law Room/Dear Irving/The Bennett

Inspired by Earth Bowl, Dinosaur Designs

“I was inspired by the organic form of the Earth Bowl, and the fact that no two are exactly the same. I wanted the cocktail to feel lush and organic with a color contrasting the object, so I focused on plant ingredients that bring to mind beautiful, tropical gardens—imagining hand-plucking a hibiscus flower. I used the pineapple fronds as garnish to highlight the organic quality of the drink and a grapefruit peel wrapped through the glass [to mimic] the bowl’s natural pattern.”

Earth Bowl


1/2 oz. lime juice
1 oz. pineapple juice
1/2 oz. cinnamon syrup
1 1/2 oz. hibiscus iced tea
1 1/2 oz. Blanks 5 Island Rum

How To Make

  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake briefly.
  2. Strain into collins glass filled with crushed ice.
  3. Add straw and garnish with a grapefruit twist and pineapple fronds.
  4. Top with crushed ice.

Pamela Wiznitzer
Creative Director, Seamstress

Inspired by Ground Control Toggle Switch, Juniper Design

“Power is about switching on and off—it’s one extreme or another. For this drink, I decided to nod to old and to modern. The light switches are essentially updating the power source. So I created two similar cocktails served differently. One is hot and one is cold. I envisioned the drinker toggling between to the two to get flavor explosions in their mouth. I used gin’s predecessor, genever, for the old. The modern version has Brooklyn Gin because that is where the company is based. The hot version is a play on the toddy, with citrus and tea garnished elegantly for aromatics. The cold is shaken egg white, which gives it a completely different texture. The concept of tea. The golden color—and edible gold-leaf garnish—match the switches.”

Ground Control Toggle Switch


1 oz. Aged Bols Genever
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. orange-spice tea syrup
1 oz. water
3 dashes orange bitters
Place into a saucepan or pot and heat up (slowly). Once mixture is hot, pour into a coupé and
garnish with a star anise.
1 oz. Brooklyn Gin
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. chamomile syrup
egg white
3 dashes orange bitters

How To Make

  1. Shake and strain into a small coupé.
  2. Garnish with edible gold leaf.

Pamela Wiznitzer

Inspired by Caife, Hool

“This idea came from the origin of Hool’s Caife mug: the United Kingdom. It’s fashioned off the Gaelic word for coffee, and what’s more Irish than an Irish coffee? It’s a drink that has to be made on-demand, similar to the 3D-printed cup. I changed up the regular recipe by taking a higher mark of traditional Irish whiskey from a rum cask with separation between the cream on top. Europeans serve espresso with lemons or oranges, so I gave it an orange slice for a garnish. It’s a remix on a classic.”



1 1/2 oz. Tullamore Dew XO Rum Cask
1/2 oz. Grand Marnier
1/2 oz. cane syrup
2 1/2 oz. cold-brew coffee
3 dashes Bittered Sling Malagasy Bitters

How To Make

  1. Pour all ingredients into a shaker and shake cold.
  2. Pour into a chilled, stemmed cocktail glass with an ice nugget.

Madeleine Rapp
Bartender, Dead Rabbit

Inspired by Coral Bookend, L’Objet

“I was really happy I got this piece because I love the ocean, so the coral really spoke to me. Like many of our drinks at Dead Rabbit, I used two base spirits, both connected to the sea. Genever is an old-style gin, something sailors in the navy would drink. Then [I added] rum because—pirates. I infused the genever with nori seaweed, like you’d wrap sushi with, to add umami and texture. I wanted the drink to be bright and refreshing, but didn’t want to ruin the gorgeous Coral Bookend by putting something red next to it. So I added cucumber juice and lemon, which are very cooling, then sweetened it with fennel and yuzu. A little sherry modifies the drink because it has some salt in it—like the ocean.” 

Coral Bookend


3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz. fresh cucumber juice
1/2 oz. fennel syrup
1/4 oz. yuzu syrup
1/4 oz. Dolin Genepy
1/2 oz. Manzanilla sherry
1 oz. seaweed-infused genever
1 oz. Barbancourt white rum

How To Make

  1. Pour all ingredients into a shaker and shake cold.
  2. Pour into a chilled, stemmed cocktail glass with an ice nugget.

Jane Danger
Beverage Director, Mother of Pearl

Inspired by Interno, Anna by Rab Labs

“There’s a lot of mythology around amethyst: The Greeks believed it protected against drunkenness, though its purple tint was believed to have come from wine. There is a wealth of amethyst in Brazil, which is why I used the national spirit, Cachaça, for the base of this cocktail. The blend of golden ingredients is a nod to amethyst being commonly found next to the honey-yellow quartz Citrine. Sometimes they even melt into each other during formation, creating a purple-and-yellow-hued stone. The Rioja float and the golden cocktail begin to swirl into each other just like the two types of quartz.”



1 dash rosemary tincture
1 dash aromatic bitters
1/4 oz. dry curaçao
1/2 oz. cinnamon syrup
1/2 oz. pineapple juice
3/4 oz. lemon juice
1 1/2 oz. Auva Jequitiba
Rosa Cachaça

How To Make

  1. Shake, fine strain, and pour into a large-rocks glass with large rough-cut ice rock.
  2. Garnish with two straws and two triangle- and one square-cut lemon peel.
  3. Top using a bar spoon and 1 1/4 oz. Rioja.

Each designer in this story was selected from The List, the destination for all things Surface-approved. Want to join The List? Find out how to apply.

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