Nostrano's happy hour menu features the Winter Smash.
For those who like a little nosh with their cocktail, Nostrano has upped the stakes in the downtown after-work scene. The restaurant's "aperitivo" happy hour, from 4 to 6 p.m., sports a menu that ranges from marinated olives to game bird skewers to a sampler platter of Elizabeth Dahl's famed pastries, all for under $11.
The drinks are a big draw, too. An always-rotating cocktail employing seasonal jam (called, appropriately, the Jam Session) keeps the options fresh. There's also an elegant, brightly flavored Winter Smash based on North Shore's Distiller's Gin No. 11. The botanicals in the gin play well with Aquavit and grapefruit (as well as the additional barrel-aged Genever gin), to highlight a wonderful caraway-inflected flavor. It is a crisp segue from late winter to spring.
For die-hard cocktail geeks, the highlight of the menu could be a barrel-aged Martinez -- the precursor cocktail to the Martini that uses Old Tom gin (think of a sweetened version of the London dry style) and orange bitters (Nostrano uses tangerine), as well as sweet vermouth instead of dry. Smoothed by time in oak, the drink is an uplifting bit of history, perfect for relaxing after a day at the office.