Inspired by America’s birthday, Redbird bar manager Tobin Shea created a month-long special menu called “Cocktails of America.” It’s a growing list of cocktails inspired or named after a U.S. city or state to only be enjoyed in July.
You won’t find the Long Island Iced Tea or Alabama Slammer, but rather lesser-known classics like Remember the Maine (a whiskey/vermouth combo). “It’s about celebrating those cocktails that no one really talks about, getting the city and state names out there,” Shea says.
However, it turns out finding a good, balanced cocktail named after a city or state is a lot more difficult than it sounds. Shea poured through his library of cocktail books for possibilities but most of the time would find odd mixtures that didn’t sound all that appealing. “The Bronx–which is gin, dry vermouth, and orange juice–is terrible. Terrible!” he adds. Prospective cocktails for the list have to be summery, well-balanced, and tasty with at least two or more ingredients.
Currently there are 12 drinks on his American menu but Shea says that may expand or get shortened as he figures out ways to make certain cocktails more palatable. “I do want to try the Bronx with clarified orange juice because we have a centrifuge here,” he says.
Learn some history while drinking! Some of the featured cocktails with interesting backstories:
Philadelphia Fish House Punch: “George Washington, our first president, once toasted 13 times, one for each colony, over Fish House Punch.”
Chicago Fizz: “This is the Windy City’s contribution to craft cocktails. This pre-Prohibition cocktail is said to cure hangovers.”
Pisco Punch: “Pisco Punch is the official drink of San Francisco. It was once said that if you consume two punches, you must walk around the block before you can get a third. Pisco was popular on the West Coast of America because to go from New York to San Francisco before the Panama Canal was built you had to go all the way down around South America and the last port before San Francisco was Peru. So the sailors would load up with pisco. The original Pisco Punch was from 1863… once the Panama Canal was created pisco literally disappeared. No one even asked for it.”
Brooklyn: “Originally printed in 1906, the Brooklyn almost disappeared. One of the major ingredients, Picon, wasn’t available in the U.S. until recently.”
Cape Codder: “The Cape Codder was created by the Ocean Spray company, it was originally called the Red Devil. That’s a surprising one.”
This American cocktails menu is currently in effect, running through the end of the month. If you have suggestions for some good city/state-inspired cocktails, Shea says to Tweet him at @tobinshea.
Redbird, 114 E. 2nd St., Downtown, 213-626-1507