A circa-1970s reggae song, “Uptown Top Ranking,” by the duo Althea & Donna (play below), captivated Bryan Schneider, head barman at the new Euro-inspired restaurant, General Assembly. “One of the lines of the song has the phrase ‘Strictly Roots,’ which I thought was an intriguing word pair, so I started playing around with the idea of doing a cocktail with Jamaican rum and roots,” he recalls.
That experiment spawned the frothy, egg white-crowned libation of the same name that is now a frequent call at the bar — which even at the innocent hour of 5:30pm can be knee-deep with after-work revelers from surrounding Park Avenue South buildings.
Schneider’s vegetal drink delicately melds aged Jamaican rum (he’s a fan of Appleton Reserve) with fresh lime juice, ginger syrup, carrot juice and St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram; it’s topped with carrot greens. “I like how the whole concept ties together here with the name and the inspiration,” Schneider explains. “Ginger, carrot and allspice are typical ingredients in Jamaican cooking, plus we are using a Jamaican rum. The carrot juice mellows the stronger flavors of allspice and ginger, while adding a soft texture. It also gives the cocktail a unique orange hue.”
The sprawling restaurant, decked out in brass, marble and leather, certainly makes one want to follow up drinks with dinner — chef Craig Koketsu’s addictive raisin-studded red quinoa dip and Point Judith grilled squid aren’t a bad place to start. For a mere snack, however, Schneider recommends springing for an order of the Parmesan-rosemary chickpea fries. “They have this incredible crispy texture, but with a great earthy creaminess in the center that complements the flavors in the Strictly Roots really nicely,” he says. If only a seat was guaranteed.
360 Park Avenue S.