With a fast-moving revolving door of fads rotating through Greenwich Village rental spaces, we no longer have the power to assume permanence or take any fact of food for granted. For example, coffee is not carbonated, right? Wrong.
Whistle & Fizz Coffee and Tea Bar, located on the corner of Greene Street and Waverly Place, is reinventing the traditional coffee shop menu, and NYU students have front row seats.
NYU alumni Jamie Wong, Kevin Kong and Ping Lu opened Whistle & Fizz in May, right around the time last spring semester’s finals rolled around. With coffee sourced from Greenwich Village-favorite Stumptown and tea from TeaSource, they set out to build a non-traditional cafe. Whistle & Fizz offers drinks with not only unique flavors, but also unique textures. Everything is made and pressurized with their in-house draft system.
“[With] coffees and teas, not much has changed over the last many, many years. We wanted to do something different,” Wong said to WSN.
And that is certainly the vibe I got when I sat down to sample a flight of tea-based drinks from their menu. Three of the drinks — the Nitro Mango, Black Gold and Red Berries ($4.50 each for a size small) — came from the Whistle menu, the name of which is derived from the sound of the nitrogen-infusion lever. These drinks are unexpectedly creamy despite the fact that they’re tea-based. I especially liked the Red Berries drink, which comes with hibiscus notes and a berry puree at the bottom.
From the Fizz menu, I sampled four drinks: the Green Apple, Yuzu Mint Lemonade, Grapefruit and Cold Brew Lemonade ($4.50 each for a size small). All of the drinks on this menu are carbonated and sparkly, hence the name Fizz.
Although I didn’t expect to like it, the Cold Brew Lemonade had a slightly caramelized flavor that made it very pleasant, perfectly blending the seemingly antithetical flavors. I later learned from Wong that the lemonade brings out the subtle citrus and sweet flavors in coffee, which then makes the end product lighter than a traditional cold brew coffee or latte. Apparently, I’m not the only NYU student pleasantly surprised by the Cold Brew Lemonade.
“During finals week when we first opened, we would have people come in and order two or three Cold Brew Lemonades per day,” Wong said.
Inspired by the Fizz menu’s theme, Whistle & Fizz recently created an off-menu, NYU-inspired drink called the Violet Rush. Knowledge of this drink is spread through word of mouth among NYU students. The Violet Rush changes from purple to a light fuschia after a splash of Limeade is added. This fizzy beverage is perfect for warmer weather, with its refreshing, fizzy texture and crisp taste of lavender, but without the heavy aftertaste of corn syrup-based drinks like Coke or Pepsi.
Towards the end of my visit, I was able to taste some of the more traditional drinks on the menu, such as the Black Sesame Latte and my personal go-to, the Iced Oat Milk Latte ($5 each). The Black Sesame Latte tasted like liquified Chinese sesame balls, which worked for me but may be on the sweeter side for some. I personally liked how bold the roast was in the iced latte. It was a little on the bitter side, but after adding some simple syrup, it was perfect.
Other classic drinks on Whistle & Fizz’s menus include the Nutella Latte and Matcha Latte ($5 each). Wong’s personal favorites are the Nitro Black Gold with Brown Sugar and the Grapefruit Fizz. Lu always goes for the Cold Brew Lemonade and Kong’s go-to is either the Black Gold Latte or Matcha Latte.
In the future, the trio hopes to work on a baking program that stays on-brand by incorporating different textures and different flavors, making the traditional coffee shop pastry more adventurous.
Whistle & Fizz is perfect for when your daily routine of grabbing coffee from the closest bodega gets old, and its proximity to the heart of NYU’s campus is a convenience that can’t be overlooked.
A version of this article appears in the Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, print edition. Email Gaby Baldovino at [email protected]