Workers were putting the finishing touches on Tivoli & Lee's dining room, now dressed in warm coppers and soft mesh window shades, when I came in for a drink.
This reinterpreted restaurant space - with master bartenders Kimberly Patton-Bragg and Steve Yamada behind the stick - is the right setting to try a most perfect variation of a beloved local classic.
That would be Kim's Provençale Gin Fizz, a gorgeous tall drink that feels like a walk through a wild French countryside. It's built with dry gin, honey-lavender syrup and goat's milk, which would seem miles from Henry Ramos's classic.
But this gin fizz captures the same tastes and textures: honey adds body, while goat's milk gives it a tang that recalls orange flower water.
Lavender replaces those same florals, and a spray of rosemary as a garnish echoes gin's dry earthiness.
On the Tivoli & Lee drinks list, this fizz follows a collection of classic and original whiskey cocktails, and the bar team's fresh takes on the modern cocktail scene: vodka spun with Earl Grey syrup; gin and botanical liqueurs, bottled and carbonated; IPA syrup and hops tincture that approach a beer-whiskey cocktail; and an allspiced hybrid of Cognac and bitter wine.
These, too, pay homage to classic styles by being clean and elegant, and never too sweet. Even dessert, a fantastic chocolate egg cream, is based on soft wheat whiskey that gives it a toasted malt taste.
Tivoli & Lee at the Hotel Modern, 936 St. Charles Avenue, 962.0900
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