I admire a creative cocktail program that reflects the spirit of a restaurant's unique menu, especially when the urge to incorporate unusual signature ingredients - apricot? almonds? - doesn't roll entirely off the tracks.
That's a real possibility at Kanella South, where the exotic spices of Cyprus, which is also a treasure trove of brandies, piney masticha liqueur (Skiros), and spirits scented with cinnamon (Rakomelo), provide ample opportunities. But general manager Ulises Robles, a Junior Merino acolyte and former Positano Coast mixologist, is clearly in his element. I loved many of his creations, from the Cypriot twanged with masticha to the boozy, lassi-like Kotsios enriched with Greek yogurt and cardamom. But the Persephone was my favorite. Some high-proof bourbon gave it a fire balanced by the measured sweetness of house-made apricot preserves. On second sip, though, a nutty layer of almond-coriander syrup washes over, and the final note - a garnish sprig of smacked thyme - leaves the herby taste of Mediterranean sun.
Want another? You bet. The Persephone is as beguiling as the underworld queen for which it's named.
Persephone, $11, Kanella South, 757 S. Front St., 215-644-8949; kanellarestaurant.com