Central Park West @ Napa Rose Lounge

Price: $12.75

When: August 19, 2017, 5 PM

Reservations: n/a

Verdict? Recommended

The Napa Rose Lounge is an under-discovered and under-appreciated cocktail bar. In some ways, this makes sense: it’s not in the parks (it’s in the Grand Californian Hotel), and its only available in the evening (they open at 5). That’s enough to keep most people away. Which is a shame.

Today, we’re standing in line for a table at the Carthay Circle Lounge. It’s moving slowly. So I check the time. 4:45 PM.

Hey, we could be at a Napa … right as they open!

Ten minutes later, we are out of DCA, through the security turnstile at the Grand Californian, and seated in plush chairs around a slowly-filling restaurant. Excellent.

Now: what to order?

The Lounge has an impressive / formidable cocktail menu. I browse, and stumble upon the “Central Park West.” The menu says, “Inspired by our love of the timeless Manhattan, this is an aromatic tribute to the classic cocktails of the boroughs of New York.”

You had me at “Manhattan.”

Let’s do this.

The drink arrives. It’s gorgeous. Clear, amber-colored liquid. A bit of lemon peel. Nicely chilled. It’s giving off a fantastic aroma.

I take a sip.

This is amazing.

It’s all the best parts of a Manhattan – the flavor, the strength – but with the hard edges shaved off. This is pure bourbon goodness, without a hint of the medicinal tinge that many Manhattans have. It’s it’s aromatic, citrus-y, delightful.

One of the joys of this project is discovering great dishes and getting to rave about them. This is one of those times. The Central Park a West isn’t just recommended: it’s a standout. Make the trek to Napa Rose Lounge and see for yourself.