In Manhattan, there’s a four-block stretch along Lexington Avenue many have come to affectionately call “Curry Hill,” no doubt due to the extensive (and diverse) selection of Indian restaurants, cafes, bars, and specialty food shops. While Curry Hill has earned its reputation as a locus of great food and drinks, there’s a spirits-forward highlight ten blocks further south that’s almost certainly worth the walk. Gupshup, a restaurant and cocktail bar about halfway between Union Square and the center of Curry Hill, markets their “interpretation of New Indian food through a modern multicultural lens.”
Of course, any interpretation (or reinterpretation) is worth a bit of skepticism, especially when decades-old and well-proven establishments are just a 15 minute stroll away. But to avoid burying the lead, when it comes to cocktails — and more — Gupshup delivers for even the pickiest of NYC’s aficionados.
The cocktail menu is the brainchild of mixologist Tenzi Samdo, best known for his work with Boston’s Cafe ArtScience. Samdo was raised in India and built the program on a base of his personal favorite Indian flavors and spices. His menu is spice-heavy with an emphasis on bold, complementary flavors; almost nothing sampled could be interpreted as subtle.
The Akela Kela is a banana-forward mix of Redemption Bourbon finished with basmati rice-infused cream of coconut. It’s served cold and best enjoyed as such to help cut a bit of the creaminess, which allows more subtle notes from the bourbon to develop on the palate.
The Dirty Pineapple features a blanco tequila base with washed pineapple, hibiscus, and lime, and overall has good acidity to balance out the sweetness. This is one that could be a worth a reorder from one course to the next.
Another highlight is the Maharaja Jam, with avocado oil-washed Leblon Cachaca that plays well and features an incredibly long, almost savory finish and mouth feel. Finally, the Regal Cinema Negroni stacks up to other solid negronis one could find within walking distance, but a Darjeeling tea finish helps it stand apart, if just slightly.
If you prefer neat spirits with your food, Gupshup’s selection is impressive and clearly curated with discerning customers in mind. Their collection ranges from very adequate (rum, Indian, and Irish whisky) to good (bourbon, rye, gin) to standout (Scotch and Japanese whisky, tequila).
The dinner and brunch offerings are focused on chic interpretations of New Delhi favorites, and Executive Chef Gurpreet Singh’s menus are extensive in offerings, including poultry, seafood, and vegetarian options. Tastes will vary, but it’s easy (and fun) to get lost in the Small Plates, the Pulled Jackfruit Tacos being an especially remarkable highlight that could make even die-hard carnivores happy. Again, the flavors are spice-forward, so come expecting heat and acidity — great for pairing with a main course cocktail (or three).
Gupshup is located at 115 East 18th Street in New York, New York. They’re open for dinner from 5pm to 10pm Tuesday and Wednesday, 5pm to 11pm Thursday, 4:30pm to 11pm Friday/Saturday, and 4:30pm to 10pm Sunday. They offer brunch from 12pm to 3:30pm Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.