Postcard: A Widow's Kiss at Eleven Madison Park

Betsy Andrews

At a dinner at Eleven Madison Park recently, the swellegant Swiss watchmaker, Blancpain, a 278-year-old family-run company, honored chef Daniel Humm. The watchmakers presented Humm with a gorgeous timepiece, and the chef cooked a gorgeous dinner to match: a torchon of foie gras with maple, apple, and walnut; citrus-sauced poached lobster; duck roasted with kale and plums; a hazelnut mille feuille with espresso ice cream and hazelnut brittle, and more. As meals do at Eleven Madison Park, the whole thing started with a visit to the kitchen, where we were treated to a cocktail called the Widow's Kiss, a late 19th-century mixture of calvados, Angostura bitters, and the liqueurs Benedictine and chartreuse. Wielding liquid nitrogen and an iSi canister—a nitrous oxide-propelled dispenser normally used for whipped cream—Eleven Madison Park's Brian Wilkerson turned the drink inside out and upside down. He plunked diced apples that had been pressed in Angostura bitters into a syrup made from the anise-accented chartreuse. He blasted the Benedictine through the iSi canister, forming half-moons of boozy, herbal foam and then froze it, along with a shot of applejack, that American-made apple brandy, with liquid nitrogen, and poured the two into the glass with the apples and syrup. A Widow's Kiss has never been so aptly named; vapor swirled around the bittersweet potion like it was a witch's brew. —Betsy Andrews