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Named the World's Best Bar, Dante plans a sequel
Four years ago, Linden Pride and his wife, Nathalie Hudson, bought Caffé Dante, a beloved, century-old Greenwich Village hangout, and reinvented it as a stylish Italianate cocktail bar and restaurant.
It was a gamble for the couple, who had immigrated a few years earlier from their native Australia, but the new bar, Dante, caught on. In July, it won the award for World's Best Bar at the Tales of the Cocktail convention in New Orleans.
Now the owners are preparing a second location and another gamble. Rather than stick with the successful Italian theme, Dante West Village - a bar and restaurant expected to open in October at the corner of Hudson and Perry streets - will take its cues from Spain's Basque Country.
"A lot of the inspiration comes from those wonderful grills in San Sebastian," Mr Pride said. "Like Kaia-Kaipe, which is right on the water halfway between San Sebastian and Bilbao, where they literally pull the fish out of the ocean and then throw it on the grill."
The chef at Dante West Village will be Angel Fernandez, a native of Chile who worked at Rosetta Ristorante in Melbourne, Australia. He moved to New York in February, expressly to collaborate on the project.
The drinks menu, devised by Mr Pride and Dante's creative director, Naren Young, will focus on two internationally popular drinks: the spritz and the martini.
"We started playing around with the martini" at Dante, Mr Pride said. "We wanted to see how people would respond to different ways of serving the martini. It was a huge success."
Thrown martinis, a style of preparation found in parts of Spain - in which the drink is theatrically poured from one vessel to another over and over again, giving the cocktail a light, aerated texture - will be a speciality at Dante West Village.
One custom drink on the menu is the Mediterranean martini, made of gin, dry vermouth, thyme, sea salt and mastiha, a liqueur derived from the hardened sap of the mastic tree. It will be served with a selection of brightly coloured Cerignola olives.
"I see the martini as a great classic cocktail, but I see it also as a great New York cocktail," Mr Pride explained.
The Dante team will have more elbow room at the new place than at the old. The space seats 75, including 16 at the L-shaped bar, and it will eventually have pavement seating. The owners also took over a neighbouring newsstand, demolishing the wall between it and the restaurant.
When Mr Pride and Ms Hudson took over the Caffé Dante space, they encountered some resistance from neighbours who feared they would spoil a treasured local institution. Over time, they and the community came to accept and embrace each other, even as the bar slowly cultivated a global reputation.
Mr Pride expects to learn similar lessons this time around. "No matter what you plan or say you want to be," he said, "often it's the customer who dictates what you become and are known for." NYTIMES