Sweet summer time is upon us! I don’t know about you all, but when I think of summer, I think of trips to the beach, outdoor happy hours with refreshing cocktails, and good old-fashioned barbecues. This past Wednesday, Edible Manhattan partnered with ‘wichcraft to bring this barbecue vision to life, with The Bryant Park BBQ.
Walking to the park Wednesday evening, I could see hints of that backyard barbecue aesthetic through the gate. Large tables covered with red gingham tablecloths spanned the grassy area, and festive string lights were tacked on the lattice patio cover. Keeping with the summer theme, there was also an abundance of fruity cocktails being passed out (but unfortunately no beach).
Upon entering, it was fairly clear the dining experience would not be as relaxed as other outdoor barbecues. Guests immediately filed into the lengthy buffet line after getting through the gate, and to find seating, you either had to be lucky and find someone leaving, or get innovative with where you sat. Luckily, everyone was in good spirits despite the long waits and crowded space. It also helped that Wölffer Estate Vineyard had a table conveniently set up before the buffet, and passed out crisp rosé cider to lighten the mood.
To my delight, the buffet kicked off with a huge kale salad, followed by pork ribs, BBQ chicken, classic baked beans, salt potatoes, corn bread, and mini chocolate cupcakes. The pork ribs were a crowd favorite. So much so, that within 45 seconds of being served, the plate was empty. I had to wait for two rounds of refills, but I was finally lucky enough to nab two ribs. Tender and well-seasoned, I understood the hype.
After making my way through the buffet, it was time to traverse the patio, where a small marketplace of vendors was set up. One of the first vendors to catch my eye was Tuthilltown Spirits, serving their Mid-Summer’s Punch. Made with fresh raspberries, lemonade, mint, club soda, and Half Moon gin, the pretty pink cocktail played perfectly into the summertime theme.
Q Drinks also made a splash, sampling their entire organic soda line. Not a soda drinker whatsoever, I was shocked that I could actually drink (and enjoy!) their bubbly refreshments. Lower in sugar and calories than traditional soda, the ginger ale was my particular favorite. Encompassing a variety of spices — ginger, coriander, cardamom, cayenne, rose oil, and orange peel — the soda had the perfect bite to it, and nice to enjoy both on its own, and in a craft cocktail.
A final and favorite vendor of the night was Dutch’s Spirits. Mixing up a ‘Moonshine Mule’, this cocktail was a twist on the classic moscow mule, made with lemon juice, simple syrup, bitters, ginger, mint, and most importantly, Dutch’s Sugar Wash Moonshine. Smooth and sweet, I could have easily kept drinking these through the night, and made a point to grab the recipe card before leaving.
As the night progressed, the crowds began to ease and the barbecue finally began to take on that authentic, home-like feel. Especially after becoming engaged in some competitive games of corn hole, the barbecue was an unexpected, yet welcome, down-home experience to come across in this typically bustling area of Midtown.
‘wichcraft at Bryant Park
11 W 40th St.
New York, NY