New York City’s ROKC Raises the Bar for Innovative Drinks

Upper Manhattan gets the city’s newest ramen and cocktail den

The Tomato-Clam cocktail at R.O.K.C. is served in a conch shell.

Warm up this fall with ramen and outstanding cocktails at Hamilton Heights’ R.O.K.C., an acronym for ramen, oysters, kitchen, and cocktails. Though only recently opened, its innovative cocktail menu is already creating quite a buzz.

Owner and beverage director Shigefumi Kabashima, a veteran of Angel’s Share in the East Village, created a menu of cocktails that are more than just delicious: These cocktails are theatrical works of art whose presentation is just as impressive as their taste.

For instance, the Thai Tea, spiked with cachaça and absinthe and sweetened with condensed milk, is served with an egg in a bird’s nest filled with an extra shot of the cocktail. Then there is the impressive Tomato/Clam with mezcal, tomato, clam, and wasabi, served in a conch shell perched on a mountain of ice in a wooden box.

The Lychee with ginger vodka, lime, and house lychee juice is light and refreshing and presented in a lightbulb sitting in a metal cup with a pineapple leaf as garnish. Another show-stopping option is the Cucumber with spicy tequila, cucumber, lime, and bell pepper, which actually comes in a frozen bell pepper.

As the saying goes, where there’s smoke there’s fire, and the drink list is no different. The Smoke bourbon cocktail is served under a large glass dome that’s filled with smoke to flavor the drink, and the Pineapple, a vanilla-rum-pineapple cocktail, is lit on fire.

Although the cocktails are not to be passed up, fortunately the food is equally well-considered. Choose from three hot bowls of ramen: the seafood bowl with garlic oil and bonito powder; a chicken- and fish-based ramen; and the chicken broth ramen with chicken-miso broth, chicken chashu, corn, baby bok choy, scallions, chile, and black pepper.

In addition, there are six fresh oysters and clams to start, as well as either pork or shrimp steamed buns. The pork was exceptional. As a side, get a bowl of the edamame — they’re sprinkled with a yuzu salt that creates a delightful flavor combination.

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