Just in time for that whole Internet rainbow food trend, Koreatown cocktail bar Break Room 86 (the one with the boozy ice cream truck) is debuting its psychedelic new cocktail menu whose drinks represent all the colors of the rainbow. So if you’ve always wanted to sip on a teal, purple, lime green or even a jet-black cocktail, this is now the place. It’s your childhood dreams—or in my case, Durannie dreams—come true!
In a departure from the opening ’80s throwback theme created by former Houston Hospitality beverage director Joseph Swifka, the new and unusually hued cocktails represent the different emotions/colors of a mood ring. Only the fun, upbeat ones; “Nervous” and “Stressed” aren’t options here.
And instead of going the Lifesavers route of pairing the dyed drinks with their respective flavors, bar manager and cocktail dreamweaver Christine Wiseman made sure the opposite was true. “The color isn’t associated with the flavor from the drink,” she says. “So like, for the red one there’s no berries or raspberries or strawberries. It’s not spicy. It’s rosemary, honey, and pear.” The black Sexy cocktail is bright, the teal Passionate has banana, the aquamarine Fresh features limoncello and grapefruit.
To not throw you off completely, however, Wiseman has equipped the menu with illustrations depicting each drink as well as a scratch and sniff sticker of their respective main flavor. She’s also taken great care to list flavors over ingredients so people will know what they’re getting into. “The menu reads a lot easier for people. They see ‘passion fruit, banana…’ and go ‘Cool, I like those things. I might not know what these other two things [Rhum JM and Encanto Pisco] are but I know that I like that!'”
Putting flavors over spirits also serves as an effectively sneaky way to get people to try cocktails they wouldn’t normally drink because they’re put off by a certain spirit. “Like people see limoncello on this [Fresh cocktail] and they want it but it’s a genever cocktail. There’s only four ingredients in this drink and we’ve been selling a decent amount of them because it’s really delicious. But before people were like, ‘Genever? I don’t know what that is and I’m not getting it.'”
Thanks to this easier-to-read menu, eye-catching colors, and provocative garnishes like lighted ice cubes and flowers, more cocktails have been selling off the menu. “They are juicy and fruity but still really fun and delicious and they look really pretty,” she says. “We’ve been selling a lot more cocktails.”
The menu has been up and running for a month with crowds gravitating toward the lime-green Enlightening cocktail thanks to its jalapeno-infused tequila as well as the purple Contemplative because mezcal and that head-turning light-up ice cube. However, my personal favorite is the pink Flighty which, dangerously enough tastes like a coconutty root beer float!