Esca - Bellini

by Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng
May 1, 2005

402 W 43rd St
@ 9th Ave

I’m not one for specialty cocktails at Manhattan restaurants, mainly because I find them too sweet, artificial, and gimmicky. I would much rather order classics — such as a refreshing Mint Julep in the summer or a bittersweet Manhattan in colder weather—than, say, an Apple martini or another such too-cloying concoction.

Recently I pleasantly happened upon Esca’s “cocktail del giorno”, their Rhubarb Bellini ($8), as I was looking for something worth sharing with everyone here.

Sitting alone at the bar, I started to query bartender Gavin about how this drink is made. Suddenly he stopped a man in a white chef’s uniform and asked him to explain to me how the rhubarb is prepared. I learned that the fresh fruit is juiced then mixed in with simple syrup. The rhubarb comes selectively from Richter’s farm in Fife, Oregon.

By eye, a pretty blur of salmon-pink; yet the nose gives away the vegetal identity of the rhubarb — in a way that isn’t all that enticing — until the taste wins you back. Surprisingly, it’s not too sweet, and it’s devoid of the sourness one would find in a rhubarb-apple pie, with as well no hint of tartness. This bellini is a wonderful combination of light sparkler and a savory-yet-sweet infusion of earth-grown flavors.

With a wonderful mouthfeel, this spring aperitif carries hints of grapefruit without the sharp acidity. It also has a bit of weight to it, unlike the commonly airy sparkling mixed drinks. And just at the very end a hint of tartness creeps up — adding a bit of twist and dimension!

The night I was there the prosecco being poured to make this bellini was Rivalta. After a long extended conversation with the humble but knowledgeable man in white that started with rhubarb, traveled to the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, Bernachon chocolatier in Lyon (, and back to the drink in hand, he was urgently called back to the kitchen. Only then did Gavin tell me that this whole time I had been chatting with David Pasternack, the famous fisherman-chef-owner of Esca.

name (required)

email (required, will not be published)




Sign up to receive the Cravings newsletter!

Wine Features

The Wine of Paris

Island Whites (Part II)

Island Whites (Part I)

South African Diversity

Surprise, Surprise! Bordeaux is Really Very Good

Burgundy Joy

New Year’s Bubblies for a Splurge and Splash


My Weekend from Wall Street to South Beach

Vérité: French Roots in California Soil

A Spirit for the Ages

Ultimate Lurton

Vinexpo, the Asian Rendition

It’s Never Too Early to Think About Father’s Day… Especially if He’s Keen on Scotch

Gin from the Past

The Beauty of a Sommelier

March of the Carnivores

Discovering Mexican Wine

A Feast in the Hills above Las Vegas

Oregon: Wines on the Frontier

Not What We Expected, Per Se

Cru Beaujolais at Union Square Cafe

Beaujolais Retailers

Beaujolais with a Backbone

Summer Cocktails?

What is Bubbling in Champagne?

Tight Little Island: Islay Scotch

French Wine Finds

Alto Adige

Back to Restaurant Season in Paris

Cyn's Favorite Champagnes in 2006

Sparkles Everywhere

Discovering Jura Gems

A Taste of North Fork

Milou en mai: My Month of May

Parisian Bistrots à Vin

A Wine Story About Bees (Buzzed by Older Wines)

Gaia: Deconstructing a Wine List

Robert Pepi Makes New Waves Under the Eponymous Label

Holiday Toasting!

Parker on Champagne: What's in a Vintage?

Pascale Rousseau

Ed McCarthy

Terry Theise

Sean Crowley

The World of Champagne Seen from the Inside Out

Lieb Cellars - Recipe 2

Lieb Cellars - Recipe 1

Lieb Cellars - Retailers

Family Cellars' Pinot Blanc: Flat or Fizz?

Rosé - Related Websites

Cyn's Rosé Recs - Retailer

Cyn's Rosé Recs - By The Glass

Jancis Robinson, Rosé & I

Pearl - Champagne

Danube - Grüner Veltliner

Esca - Bellini

Prune - Bloody Mary

iTunes, App Store, iBookstore, and Mac App Store

Sur La Table_Brand_120X90


Save Ten on Angie's List!

Alessi S.P.A. US