What began as a curiosity-spurred foray into a restaurant’s disconnected cocktail menu catapulted Buffalo, N.Y., native Ann Marie Del Bello to the top of the beverage industry. Today, she is the beverage manager at Loring Place, one of New York City’s hottest restaurants.
Earlier, when Bello served at Michelin star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichte’s ABC Kitchen, she developed a distinct relationship with cocktails. While the wine and food coexisted on the same menu, cocktail options were disconnected — not only from the menu, but from the restaurant’s local, artisanal focus. Bello recalls wondering if there were “local spirits or distilleries that were passionate about their respective projects.” Such inquisitiveness formed the foundation to her craft, which followed her to the establishment’s sister restaurant, ABC Cocina.
Bello created a beverage program that celebrated local and artisanal spirits and distilleries, matching the restaurant’s concept and focus. Today, this philosophy can be felt at her new home, Loring Place (which was launched by former ABC executive chef Dan Kluger). There she manages a beverage program rooted in the same farmers market-fresh and local ingredients as the cuisine.
For Bello, that’s simply about “getting to know your neighbors.” She has established relationships with local producers, allowing their stories to influence her craft. Visits to distilleries, breweries, and wineries with her beverage team are not uncommon.
Incorporating local spirits into classic cocktails provides drinkers with an enjoyable yet educational experience. As Bello says, “I adore teaching…[but] adore learning even more.”
Check out the recipe to one of her signature cocktails, “Bee’s Knees,” below.
Bee's Knees Recipe
1 ½ oz. Barr Hill Gin
1 oz. honey
¾ oz. lemon juice
Add above ingredients in shaker with ice.
Shake vigorously and pour into coupe glass (also known as a champagne saucer).
Slanted 1-inch lemon twist on glass with pith facing drinker.