(This venue is closed.) On the prowl for sarabba, I was disappointed to find that the Indonesian restaurant Borobudur had given way to an Italian pastry shop.
Or so it seemed. "Pinisi," I learned, denotes a class of long-haul sailing vessel that still makes port in Makassar, the largest city on the island of Sulawesi. And while the café's owner — a pastry chef, and a former owner of Borobudur — does the bulk of his business in European-style cakes and pastries, he still serves a few Indonesian savories, as well as sarabba (large; $3), the traditional drink of watchmen and other late-night workers during cool nights on the island.
The scent of this ginger punch is quite sharp; palm sugar and coconut milk round off the flavor but jazz up the nervous system. Although sarabba is sold by many Sulawesi proprietors only after midnight, in the East Village it's served all day, so you can drink your fill on the early side, without being drafted into the night watch.
Pinisi Café & Bakery
128 East 4th St. (First-Second Aves.), Manhattan (shown above)
Previously also at 18-20 First Ave. (1st-2nd Sts.) (shown below; also now closed)