Like many ambitious new restaurant-bars, Cry Baby Pasta has optimistically lined its tavern shelves with a fascinating array of the bittersweet Euro potions known as amari, aperitivi, and vermouth. And, as inevitably happens, they rarely get ordered solo — save by the occasional liquor nerd like me. I enjoyed the orange rush of a Corsican Mattei Cap Corse Rouge, swirling its citrusy, walnut, cocoa, and quinine persuasions around the rapid-chill iceberg of a giant cube. For the most part, though, it seems Cry Baby bar manager Guy Smith has wisely compensated by expertly weaving many of these complex liquors into his list of creative cocktails, like the Terrible Tear Drops, made with pepper-infused rye, dry vermouth, and Lambrusco syrup, or the lemony Cynar-Lambrusco blend of the Purple Noon.
The most charming drink among them is Don’t Cry Be Bitter. It’s a citrus-forward riff on gin and tonic that radiates the sunny orange hue and aroma of Luxardo Aperitivo, a relatively low-alcohol, cinnamon-tinged alternative to Aperol, which melds beautifully with vividly house-steeped citrus cordial (commercial Rose’s be gone!), juicy fresh lime, and a dash of Peychaud’s bitters. With a Lolita heart swizzle to stir it to life and an orange peel waving from its tall glass like a banner in the breeze, there’s something so cheerful and remarkably smooth about the drink that there will be neither tears nor bitterness — just pangs of sadness once you’ve sipped it down to empty ice.
— Craig LaBan