Saturday, April 13, 2024

How To Happy Hour Like Sarah Jessica Parker

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Carrie Bradshaw loves cosmopolitans. That fact is canon for Sex and the City fans. But don’t get it twisted: everyone’s favorite messy columnist isn’t the only one who enjoys the cranberry-vodka concoction. It is, in real life, the drink of choice for Ms. Sarah Jessica Parker as well.

So much so that SJP co-founded the award-winning cocktail brand Thomas Ashbourne Craft Spirits earlier this year. The female-led and -owned company specializes in ready-to-drink cocktails made with fresh, all-natural ingredients and premium liquors.

“We’re here to dispel the myth that bespoke, high-end cocktails can only be enjoyed in certain settings, by certain people,” says CEO Cara Kamenev. “Our brand [provides] consumers a high-quality beverage comparable only to the best bar-made cocktails that can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere.”

There are four types of canned and bottled cocktails in the roster. First up, we have “The Perfect Cosmo,” co-signed by Parker. Made with fresh squeezed lime and subtle hints of strawberry, the beverage earned a Double Gold award at the 2022 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. There’s also the “The Margalicious Margarita,” a combined effort from famous friends Ashley Benson, Rosario Dawson, and Vanessa Hudgens. Playboi Carti joined in for “The Hardscatto,” combining moscato and vodka for the truly hardcore. Lastly, “The Classic Old Fashioned” stands alone with the Thomas Ashbourne name. And who is Asbourne, you ask? That would be a legendary Prohibition-era mixologist. Long live the rebellion.

We caught up with Sarah Jessica Parker to chat cosmopolitans—and her guide to the best bars in New York City.

sarah jessica parker’s guide to the best bars in new york city

sarah jessica parker’s guide to the best bars in new york city

Leah Romero

So this love affair with cosmopolitans is not just on-screen? I think fans are surprised this brand didn’t come sooner, to be honest.

I didn’t really drink cosmopolitans until long after the show went off the air. I’m not a huge drinker, and I think I was so consumed by work for so long for so many years. Especially with Sex and the City, I was working 18-hour days every single day for years and years and years. I would go to work at six in the morning, come home at two in the morning. It was absolutely bananas. I didn’t really ever drink until after the show was off the air, and I think I [went] somewhere that actually had a cosmopolitan and it was just made really, really well. It was like a revelation for me because the cosmopolitans on the show typically are just cranberry juice and water. Obviously, we’re not drinking real alcohol when we’re shooting.

So, I came to my own affection for the drink much later than most people would have imagined…But I really do love a cosmopolitan. I feel like it’s important that if I’m going to do something, that I have some real enthusiasm about it.

Okay, so you’re a true cosmo drinker. I imagine creating a ready-to-drink cocktail requires some very serious research and development…

I was excited [the team] took it really seriously! Getting to what we put in the can itself (or the bottle, depending on how you’re buying it) took time. We got in a car—I remember the date, it was December 9, 2020—and we went all over the city, which seemed undoable to me, to various spots where I had really beautiful cosmopolitans and tried to break them apart and understand what was making something distinguished in one way that we might want to try to capture. A night of drinking…I’ve never done that! I’ve never just gone to a place and only had cocktails. It was bizarre to me. It felt like I was somebody else entirely.

Ah, and that is where you an I differ.

I think we were just really concentrating…We had a job to do, and we had to keep our wits about us to remember what worked and what we hoped we could recreate.

So you weren’t sipping just for fun.

No, but it was fun…But it was really important because I think it’s really difficult to get these things right, and consumers are smart. They care about how they’re spending their money and where they’re spending their money, and who they’re giving it to. I felt completely honor-bound to get it right. And I feel like we did. I drink it! I really drink it, and I look forward it. I love it. I’m tickled that it’s been so successful, and that people are responding so well. It’s a lesson in splitting the atom, as they say, in working until you really feel good about something.

That said, is a cosmopolitan your official drink of choice?

Pretty much. Obviously, I drink wine, which I really like as well. They sort of serve different purposes. It’s very obvious to me when I’m going to have [wine versus] a cosmopolitan at home—which I’ve never been able to make, which is really foolish on my part. So, I was awfully happy to have ready-to-drink can that I like. That would be my go to. When I’m out and I’m ordering a cocktail, even if I think today’s the day I’m going to try a martini—I’ve never had a martini in my life. I also love a paloma with mezcal and fresh grapefruit juice. I really love that, but I don’t typically ask for it. I would say 98 percent of the time I will order a cosmopolitan, very cold with a lemon twist. VERY cold. Shaken.

I will even have one this evening. What I really do like about this, not to sound crazy, is it is a small can. There’s an indulgence about it in its ease and quality and experience that’s so satisfying. But it doesn’t feel reckless, if that makes sense, like a home pour where it’s just too much, and you end up drinking it all—like a family size bag of M&Ms where you’re like, “this isn’t going to end well.” It’s a perfectly sized can. I don’t know theres something that feels better about it. And I will enjoy that drink tonight, you can be assured.

Will you be serving your perfect canned cosmo at holiday parties this season?

We’ll have the Thomas Ashbourne cocktails here! But my husband also makes really beautiful cocktails. He’s got a couple friends and they just really know how to make a proper cocktail. I’m not the bartender. I can do a gin and tonic for somebody. I can obviously open a cosmopolitan can or a margarita. I can open a can happily and get a nice glass. But my husband makes beautiful, beautiful drinks.

Can he make you a good paloma?

I’ve attempted a paloma myself! But he doesn’t make them because he’s not a drinker of things that have sweetness in them, typically. Although a whiskey sour is a bit sweet, so I take that back. But I’ve made a paloma. I bought a grapefruit at the market and did my best version.

And it came out well?

To my unsophisticated palette—yes.

Cocktails aside, if you’re bringing wine as a hostess gift, do you have a favorite bottle for gifting?

I gift my own. Honestly, if it weren’t an award-winning, beautiful bottle of Sauvignon, I wouldn’t. But people ask me for it all the time, and we run out of it here in new York, so I’m happy to. Now for holiday I can, for sure, bring the cosmo and my wine because there’s something for everybody.

Of course, I should have seen that coming. If you’re not drinking in the comfort of your own home, do you have a favorite cocktail bar in New York City? Per your research tour, where can I get a good cosmo, sans the can?

We have restaurants that we love that we’ve gone to for a really, really long time. They have beautiful bars physically and really talented bartenders. There’s an amazing bartender at Fairfax. There’s Raoul’s in Soho—beautiful bar and great bartenders. I had an absolutely beautiful cosmopolitan on very special night out with friends to Le Bernardin last weekend. Absolutely exquisite. Gene’s has a really good one. It’s totally different. Morandi has a good cosmopolitan. We don’t go out a huge amount, and we tend to walk where we’re going….You know where has a beautiful cosmopolitan? Cafe Un Deaux Tois. Beautiful.

That makes a decent list. Do you have any tips for beating a hangover?

I can’t be sure I’ve ever had a hangover, which means I probably haven’t. I don’t recall ever being drunk. I don’t think that’s something I want to experience. Everybody says water and Advil? I don’t know.

How about a game of smash or pass on popular cocktails to close us out? Starting a with a cosmopolitan, that’s an obvious love, right?

Yes.

Negronis?

No. I don’t care for the bitter. There’s a bitter thing in there, right? I wish I did. I think I’m simply not sophisticated enough. It’s not the Negroni’s fault!

I was going to ask about espresso martinis, but you already confessed that you’ve never had a martini at all. Blasphemy.

Never, but I was talking to someone the other day that had a beautiful, beautiful espresso martini at Balthazar. Apparently, the best they’ve ever had.

Margaritas?

I like a margarita. I really do. I like a spicy margarita very, very much. With mezcal.

What about a mojito?

No…What’s in a mojito? Is it rum?

It’s white rum, lime juice, and mint.

Not a big mojito drinker, no. You know what I do like is a Caipirinha. There’s a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful Brazilian restaurant in the West Village that has been there forever called Casa, and they have, of course, a beautiful Caipirinha.

Last one: Aperol Spritz?

Nope. No interest, but once again it’s not the fault of the drink. It’s a beautiful drink. I love how people are very excited especially in the summer. I’m just not drawn to it.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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