The former Meli space in Fells Point has finally reopened as an Italian spot with the moniker Anastasia, the namesake inherited by (or bequeathed by, however you prefer) the owner's daughter. Can you guess what her name is? It rhymes with "Manastasia." And it's also the signature cocktail of the revamped establishment — the Anastasia.
Served in a chilled martini glass, the Anastasia is a fine and tasty orange cocktail featuring a base of Hangar One Mandarin Blossom vodka, which benefits from being a far more subtle orange flavor than the often sickeningly sweet and artificial competitors. Hangar One is a very small batch line of vodkas produced in a repurposed airplane hangar (hence the name) with a clear head-and-shoulders distinction above most other brands, well worth the price of admission.
Additional layers of orange keep piling on the Anastasia with a shot of triple sec and a dash of blood orange juice, with a shade of bitterness coming through in part due to the blood orange providing a welcome balance to the mixture.
And while the Anastasia stands well enough on its own without any assistance, the star ingredient happens to be the one thing overlooked oh so very often: the garnish. In this case, exceedingly thinly sliced and candied orange chips. These things are amazing. Bartender Cliff Harris shared my enthusiasm. "They're honey sweetened, we make them in house in the oven," he said. "I could eat them all day." Give me a giant bowl of these things, Cliff, because I could eat them all day, too.
So congrats to you, Anastasia. Not only do you get to have an entire restaurant named after you but a signature cocktail with a fantastic candied garnish to boot. In a Warholian future, we'll all be cocktail celebrities for 15 minutes, and I can't wait to have my own garnish. A man can dream?
How to make the Anastasia
2 oz. Hangar One Mandarin Blossom vodka
1 oz. triple sec
Splash of blood orange juice
Candied orange slices to garnish
Combine all ingredients and shake to combine. Strain into martini glass and garnish with candied orange slices.
Where to get the Anastasia
1636 Thames St., Fells Point