By James Atkinson

The team behind New York City bar Dead Rabbit yesterday told Top Shelf attendees why the bar has completely overhauled its drinks menu, despite it winning massive critical acclaim in its debut year.

Launched just 12 months ago by Jack McGarry and Sean Muldoon (pictured L-R), Dead Rabbit won three prestigious Spirited Awards at Tales of the Cocktail 2013: World’s Best New Cocktail Bar, World’s Best Cocktail Menu, and International Bartender of the Year for McGarry.

Muldoon told TheShout the bar excited New Yorkers with a unique menu of "crazy-arse drinks from way back in the 1800s and 1700s", with entire sections dedicated to ale-based drinks and absinthe.

"Each drink was historically researched, then tweaked for the modern palate," he said.

Despite the existing menu's success, the duo will launch an entirely new cocktail list at Dead Rabbit's first birthday next week.

"Especially in New York, you need to constantly reinvent yourself. The minute you become boring, the minute you become yesterday's news, it's over," Muldoon said.

"You need to up the game, up the ante – you can't ever think, 'we'll be good today, so we'll be good tomorrow' – New York is a very savage city. Any new bars that open, 40 per cent of them close within six months, it's that savage."

Muldoon said the theme of the new cocktail list is still historical but "much more Irish whiskey-focused and flavour-driven – we want to be known for Irish whiskey and cocktails".

"The new direction is about constantly wanting to excite the customer, giving them a feeling that they want to come back," he said.

McGarry said the menu has also been simplified and structured around sections of cocktails including 'bitter', 'sour' and 'fresh'.

"It's much more approachable and easier to navigate for the consumer," he said.

At Top Shelf yesterday, Muldoon and McGarry showcased drinks that illustrate the new direction of their menu. They will address trade at the festival again this afternoon.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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