La Dolce Dante
Italian heritage. NYC cocktail culture. La dolce vita. It all comes together in the form of a Negroni, the refreshing Italian gin-based cocktail.
Since 2015, the award-winning Dante has become one of the top Negroni destinations in the world, introducing the tradition of aperitivo to New Yorkers and visitors alike. As Negroni Week approaches — the 10th anniversary of the celebration takes place from September 12–18, 2022, with plenty of revelry at our own Dante Seaport — we delved into the Negroni’s enduring popularity with one of the city’s aperitivo experts. Here, Dante principal Linden Pride opens up about his love for the Negroni, and how Dante grew and arrived here at the Seaport.
For those not familiar with Dante, can you give us a quick history of the bar and the growth of the business?
Dante originally opened in 1915 as a meetinghouse for Italian immigrants, and has always been a beacon for the community of Greenwich Village — attracting people from all walks of life: from famous actors, writers, and musicians, to the down-at-heel of the beatnik generation, all of whom have found solace in its relaxed environs.
My wife, Nathalie, and I took over the space in 2015 with the intention to stay true to Dante’s Italian heritage while striving for innovation. We’ve embraced its role as a community gathering place — an unpretentious and welcoming environment where neighbors can come in at any given time of the day to connect over a coffee, a meal or a cocktail.
Through celebrating this authenticity, we expanded the food and beverage offerings — specifically, our aperitivo-focus cocktail menu. We were fortunate enough to be recognized as #1 World’s Best Bar in 2019 and have been awarded several accolades including Time Out New York’s Bar of the Year and World’s Best Bar and Best American Restaurant Bar at the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards.
In 2015, we opened our second location: Dante West Village, with a Mediterranean-inspired menu centered around a wood-fired grill and charcoal oven, paired with a Spritz and Martini bar.
What appealed to you about opening a Dante at the Seaport?
Our residency at the Seaport started during the winter of 2020-21, when we brought our bottled cocktail programming to The Greens’ outdoor dining cabins. When the opportunity to come back to the Seaport arose the following winter, we were excited to expand our presence with the seasonal pop-up Dante Winterhouse, which later evolved into Dante Seaport. The area has seen an immense amount of growth which is exciting, and the location on the Pier is so unique in the city.
What is Dante’s ethos? Tell us about “La Dolce Dante” and what that means to your team.
“La Dolce Dante” is our take on La Dolce Vita, or “The Sweet Life.” The concept of La Dolce Dante is perhaps most well recognized in our celebration of “aperitivo.” Aperitivo can be defined by its practical side — the style of drinks, snacks to accommodate them, and hospitality that surrounds the moment. But it is the magic of the time of day — that golden hour when the day is finishing and the night is beginning, that really marks Aperitivo as something almost intangible. A romance, where time almost stands still and friends come together to toast the closing of the day and to anticipate the beginning of the evening. Dante Seaport, with its view of the Brooklyn Bridge and the East River waterfront, is a beautiful place to celebrate this tradition.
Dante put the Negroni on the map. Why do you love the Negroni?
When we first opened Dante in 2015, we offered our Negroni variations as part of “the Negroni Sessions,” which aimed to combine what Americans knew as happy hour, with the European sensibility of “Aperitivo.” We had many guests coming in and trying Negronis for the first time — trying to understand the intricacies of the Italian bitters, and their ability to combine and contrast with the wonders of Italian vermouth. There were a lot of first-timers! Since then, the Negroni has moved away from being a cult bartender favorite, and emerged as the symbol of our collective love affair for Italy, and the magic of summer nights and La Dolce Vita.
Personally, I love the simplicity of a Negroni. In its purest form, a Negroni is made up of just three ingredients [gin, vermouth rosso and Campari]— it’s hard to mess up. However, the versatility of the drink is incredible. You can swap ingredients and make a myriad of creations based on the simple three-part recipe.
How are you celebrating Negroni Week at Dante Seaport?
At Dante Seaport’s Negroni Bar, we will be celebrating with a few special additions to our Negroni Sessions menu — our Golden Sbagliato and Bergamot Negroni. There will be a few additional special touches as well as we celebrate our favorite cocktail throughout the week. Proceeds from every cocktail sold during Negroni Week will be donated to God’s Love We Deliver.
Any tips for making or ordering a Negroni?
When making a Negroni at home, focus on the quality of the ingredients, always serve in frozen glassware, utilize the right bar devices, and pay attention to proportions when concocting the drink. Once you’ve fallen in love with the classic Negroni, try experimenting with different types of bitters, Amari and vermouth. Changing up the base spirit can be great fun also — our Mezcalito is one of our most popular Negroni riffs, using mezcal instead of gin.
Launched 10 years ago by Imbibe Magazine, Negroni Week has raised over $3 million for charitable organizations. Celebrate Negroni Week—September 12–18—at Dante Seaport, with live entertainment, a Negroni fountain, and special editions of the brand’s signature “Negroni Sessions.”