Spirit of Philadelphia New Years Eve 2018

Beyond Suraya's Lebanese Cuisine: An Inside Look At Their Cocktail Menu

Fishtown's Suraya, which has recently taken Philadelphia's dining scene by storm, may have some of the best food in the city — but don't overlook their inventive and unique cocktail menu, created by head bartender Aaron Deary.

Suraya, owned by Roland Kassis and his sister Nathalie Richan (who are also at the helm of Cafe La Maude), was created and is run in partnership with Greg Root, whose eponymous restaurant brings European flavors and a diverse wine list to Frankford Avenue. (Nick Kennedy of ROOT, a partner as well, is also the executive chef at Suraya.) The concept is a return to Kassis' Lebanese roots — he left Beirut at the age of 14, but before that, he watched his grandmother cook flatbreads with ingredients like za'atar, all of which you can find on Suraya's menu.

The drink menu, which has an entire section of arak based cocktails (a colorless aperitif with an anise flavor which is often called "The Milk of Lions"), features drinks that use Middle Eastern spices and flavors, and is quite unlike any other cocktail menu in Philadelphia. Every cocktail is named after the work of Khalil Gibran, a Lebanese poet, writer and visual artist, whose work Deary was reading when he created the menu.

As for the creative ingredients, Deary, who also ran the bar at ROOT, says, "first I had to learn about Lebanese ingredients, and then I wanted to highlight different flavors that people don’t see in cocktails very often so I could introduce them to different spices and herbs." 

No detail, no matter how small, goes overlooked at Suraya, and Deary and his bar team are serving up some of the most creative cocktails in Philadelphia, all of which pair beautifully with the spices, themes and flavors of the food menu. Check out the cocktail menu below, and next time you stop in for stuffed grape leaves or kibbeh naya, be sure to ask which cocktail pairs best with your favorite dish.

Lace & Linens
Elderflower, saffron sugarcube, bitters & bubbles

The Prophet
Knob Creek rye, roots rakomelo, jallab, bitters & orange blossom water

Builders of Bridges
Pineapple-baharat shrub, vodka & Fevertree ginger beer

The Tempest
El Dorado 12 Year rum, éclat-contratto, rhum barbancourt, chocolate bitters & urfa-vermouth

Sand & Foam
Espolon Blanco tequila, yuu baal mezcal, pistachio, sea asparagus, lime & rose water

The Poet
Bluecoat gin, génépy, cucumber, za'atar, limon omani & aquafaba

Arak Cocktails

The Nightingale
Arak ramallah, apricot, contratto, almond & bubbles

The Last Watch
Knob Creek bourbon, massaya arak, meletti amaro, clementine, black cardamom & Ceylon tea

The Golden Belt
Bluecoat Barrel Finished gin, Toki, Laphroaig, turmeric, burnt honey, coriander & arak

Photos via Drink Philly

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