When I first met Australia-born bartender Damian Windsor, he was still a “dolphin trainer” by day and bartender by night at establishments like Seven Grand and Bar Lubitsch. Ocean-dwelling mammals are no longer part of his training regimen, and he’s gone from The Roger Room to The Warwick to Power House and is now creating cocktails at Salon at The Federal Bar, which opened over Thanksgiving weekend in the NoHo Arts District.
The third-floor bar resides next to a performance space and features patterned velour wallpaper, brick, a library-like lounge with red velvet drapes, a wall counter with stools, and a central wood bar. Windsor’s menu cleverly features an icon of correlating glassware next to each listed drink. In terms of the actual cocktails, he made it clear that guests could enjoy “not just brown and stirred” drinks, but also “aesthetic standouts.” That description is apt for Suissesse, a classic New Orleanian cocktail that’s more or less an “anise mint milkshake.” The frothy shaken drink combined absinthe, creme de menthe, cream, egg white, and fizzy soda. The garnish: grated almond and mint. Windsor created the cocktail for a 2016 competition. He placed second, which had me thinking he was robbed after enjoying the drink.