It’s crazy how fast a year goes by! Just one year ago, Handcraft Kitchen & Cocktails opened its doors on the streets of Kips Bay. Known for its rustic décor, extensive and elaborate drink menu, and creative takes on popular dishes, Handcraft has been a leader for change in the community. To celebrate the success and hard work of the past year, Handcraft hosted a party with drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and more drinks!
The restaurant was dimly lit and by the time I got there, pleasant chatter had already started to fill the restaurant. The interior was decorated in what the owners described as “industrial chic,” and the warm tones of the wood tables and exposed bulbs definitely matched the atmosphere.
There was a nearly constant crowd around the bar, eager for the locally sourced drinks on tap and the delicious cocktails created by none other than co-owner, Alex Mouzakitis. Now I normally hate drink-based parties because when you’re under 21 the most interesting your drink tends to get is water with a slice of lemon, but Alex was more than willing to make me a Berry Lemonade without the vodka.
Before things got too crazy, I got a chance to talk with the two owners, Chad Gaudet and Alex Mouzakitis, and ask them a few questions about the past year. They describe the past year as a rollercoaster. Alex says they have to “go month to month, week to week, sometimes day to day,” because like anything else in life, there are good days and bad days.
As for the next few years, they obviously hope to keep up the success of the past year as well as potentially opening more locations. For now, they hope to encourage the shift toward higher quality of dining going on in the surrounding neighborhood.
When asked about the inspiration for their food, Chad directed me to their Executive Chef, Giancarlo Autenzio. He describes their food as “worldwide cuisine” which is inspired by his travels, though he admits that Southern cuisine is probably the strongest influence and that the Louisiana Gumbo is his “heart and soul.”
Giancarlo is actually the executive chef at two restaurants, so the last year has been understandably stressful for him, but he really enjoys the freedom he has at Handcraft to experiment with food. He says he has “no doubt the food will only get better” because they welcome critiques from their customers and “cater to the community.”
The food really was incredible. Waiters waded through the thick crowd of people, carrying with them roasted cauliflower, prosciutto and watermelon, and the most succulent meatballs I have ever had, and while I only had a few small bites here and there it definitely got me craving to come back for more. So here’s to a successful year at a spectacular restaurant and many more anniversaries to come.