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Spring 2008


COCKTAIL HOUR

The X-Factor
By Baroness Sheri de Borchgrave
Photographs by Neil Landino Jr.

SAVORING ST. GERMAIN 75 SUR HUDSON AT X2O IN YONKERS

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It takes a master mixologist to create a truly enduring signature restaurant cocktail, a drink that embodies in flavor, look and attitude the establishment it represents. Not too frilly or serious, too fruity-sweet or knockout-punch strong, this representative libation should stimulate the appetite and brighten the mood. And it should capture in a glass the excitement of the meal to come, leaving a lingering impression, a certain x-factor. That x-factor is very literally what X2O Xaviar's on the Hudson is all about. This Yonkers hotspot is the brainchild of renowned chef Peter Xaviar Kelly, who bested Bobby Flay on Food TV's Iron Chef, and whose quartet of Hudson Valley restaurants regularly garners Zagat raves.

From its perch on the river set on a Victorian-era pier, the dining room, with its vaulted 25-foot ceiling, offers dazzling views downriver to the George Washington Bridge, upriver to the Tappan Zee Bridge and unforgettable sunsets over the Palisades. The food is an international mix built on local ingredients and classic French techniques, featuring dishes like lobster crêpe, duck schnitzel, miso-glazed salmon and filet of Berkshire black hog. Kelly's partner in drinks, X2O wine director Billy Rattner, chose the perfect opening cocktail. Like the restaurant itself, his heady, delicious concoction, the St. Germain 75, is a rejiggered classic with a contemporary twist. Rattner points out that the cocktail not only works well with Kelly's fusion cuisine, but also with the large array of sushi and sashimi prepared by two Asian chefs in the restaurant's casual dining Dylan Lounge.

St. Germain's elderflower liqueur—only a year on the market and already a mixology sensation—is the signature cocktail's secret ingredient. The floral liqueur imparts hints of honeydew and kiwi to Rattner's riff on the French 75, a Parisian cocktail made with gin and Champagne that dates back to the First World War. The X2O version is built on Idol French vodka (distilled from pinot noir and chardonnay grapes), St. Germain, fresh lemon juice and soda. Light and bubbly, it reflects the restaurant's buzzy mood and the chef's ever-inventive cuisine.

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