DINING DIARY | EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW, BACCHANAL / by Brackett Bilodeau

What better way to give thanks than to gather around NYC’s hottest tables? Luxury Attaché sat down over holiday-inspired treats with Bacchanal’s new chef, Craig Hopson, and cocktail whiz Naren Young for the details on their Thanksgiving 2014 offerings.

LA: Before we get into holiday, tell us a little bit about your personal styles and how they’re implemented here at Bacchanal.

CH: My training’s always been in French restaurants, mostly high-end restaurants. My plan is to use great technique and great ingredients but present them in a more accessible, more casual manner. I want it to be approachable but also creative enough to be interesting, keep it relevant with trends and all that. I want to keep things interesting enough to appeal to a foodie crowd.

NY:  Well, our cocktail menu rotates seasonally so we can excite people with new stuff constantly. My focus has always been very culinary, so the a lot of the drinks have kind of a culinary sensibility...you’ll find a lot of vegetable, herbs, and spices, things like that. This particular list, I’m pretty proud of. There’s a lot of things that are just very seasonal, like pomegranates, apples, cranberries, cumquats, you know, and then getting into nutty flavors, things that are round and rich. We’re using a lot more dark spirits, bringing things forward that maybe a lot of people aren’t using, like cognac, armagnac, calvados, and different brandies. A lot of whiskey, some dark rum...It’s important for me that this list is always really well balanced. There’s something on here for everybody.

LA: Let’s talk Thanksgiving. What does Bacchanal have going on in terms of seasonal menu offerings?

CH: We’re doing a Thanksgiving prix-fixe menu, a turkey dinner of course. It’s a great turkey really interestingly done. We’ve got some other interesting things on the menu as well, like chestnut pappardelle and wild striped bass with pumpkin chutney. As far as fall goes in general, it’s absolutely seasonal. We’ve introduced venison on the menu, nantucket scallops, pumpkin...the fall menu is really dynamic.

NY: In terms of right now, the Fall 2014 cocktail really feels like Thanksgiving to me and will carry through the holiday. It’s a nice discussion point, always having something that’s really hyperseasonal. I think a lot of people want those childhood memories in some way or something familiar that people can associate with. If we can have something that evokes that feeling in someone that takes them back to somewhere else, maybe it’s pumpkin pie, then you know, it makes people curious.

LA: Any personal favorites from this season’s menu?

CH: I like it all. I’m really happy with everything, no favorites. We’ve also got a great by-the-glass program with our wines, which pair really well with our menu items.

NY: My personal favorite...I would say the Olives Seven Ways would be close; that’s a drink I spent about two years on so I have a real labor of love for that one. It’s very conceptual. A lot of the drinks on this menu are conceptual. It’s a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that goes on; our drinks are very elegant, very polarizing. There’s a definite aesthetic to our drinks, much like Chef Craig’s dishes.

Contact your Attaché for Thanksgiving 2014 reservations.