Aberdeen Cocktail Bar Named Among Best In America

A Monmouth County cocktail bar picked up another national recognition after just one year of serving specialty drinks.

La Otra beverage director Ricardo Rodriguez.     

La Otra beverage director Ricardo Rodriguez.     

Photo Credit: ET Schindler

Esquire named La Otra in Aberdeen Township on its list of 42 Best Bars in America for 2024. The bar is next to its sister restaurant Lita on Route 34, and both businesses are run by chef David Viana and his girlfriend Neilly Robinson.

Bar manager Ricardo Rodriguez has a more "free-wheeling" approach to mixology at La Otra, compared to the Iberian classics at Lita.

"Like the best bars attached to restaurants, the drinks are on the culinary side, such as the Tzatziki, which uses vodka, aquavit, cucumber, dill, and yogurt, or the Nordic Old Fashioned, which made us a fan of smoked butter," wrote Kevin Sintumuang of Esquire.

La Otra celebrated its most recent Esquire feature in an Instagram post.

"It's such an honor to represent New Jersey & share the spotlight alongside so many of our favorite places across the U.S.," the bar posted. "Cheers to [Rodriguez] and our incredible bar team for this huge accomplishment. We're just getting started!"

La Otra was also recognized by Esquire on its 2023 list of Best Martinis in America. Winning the honor was the Garden State Martini, which features manzanilla sherry, New Jersey tomato water, strawberry white balsamic, and olive oil.

Lita was also one of Esquire's 50 choices for The Best New Restaurants in America in 2023. The restaurant specializes in Portuguese delicacies and opened in April 2023.

Viana is Lita's executive chef and grew up in the Portuguese neighborhood of Little Lisboa in Newark. The restaurant is named after Viana's mother Rosa Lita, who emigrated from Portugal in the 1970s.

Viana was nominated in 2018 for the James Beard Foundation's best mid-Atlantic chef award. Lita was also a semifinalist for the 2023 James Beard Award for best new restaurant.

Lita's website said Viana brings "new life to a cuisine that has suffered years of neglect and boredom."

"Using his grandmother’s recipes and reintroducing ingredients like piri piri, paprika, clove, allspice, cumin, and nutmeg to meats, fish, and other savory dishes, Chef David looks to recapture the taste of his youth and combine it with NJ fresh ingredients and modern techniques," the website said.

Lita is open from 5 to 10 p.m. on Wednesdays through Saturdays. It's also open from 4 to 8 p.m. on Sundays.

La Otra is open from 5 to 11 p.m. on Thursdays, and 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

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