Even though what George Lucas did with the original Star Wars was nothing short of spectacular, it’s hard to suppress excitement over the upcoming reboot by J.J. Abrams. What’s the director of the recent Star Trek update going to do with the precious sci-fi franchise? Will his humor, knack for action scenes, and rampant use of light flares do right by the beloved characters? Or will he just piss off everyone? Reboots of old favorites can be a tricky business, but the potential payout is huge.
So, what does this have to do with the new Petty Cash Arts District? It’s where fans of the original location get to see just what barman Dave Kupchinsky (formerly of Eveleigh) can do with a taqueria cocktail program while working with Julian Cox and Nick Meyer. You’ll get to experience what his brand of elegant cocktailing—with house-made cordials, syrups, and shrubs—can do to something like a Piña Colada.
“The bar program at Petty Cash Beverly has changed throughout the years but with Dave Kupchinsky on the team we wanted him to provide his signature,” explains Cox. “[Kupchinsky] has an incredible rustic approach that I think is great for the Arts District.” The program here employs “more modernist techniques,” like fermentation and infusions, as they wanted to do something that’s unique to the space Downtown instead of repeating the Mid-City restaurant’s menu. Bonus that the old Fifty Seven space is equipped with a kitchen set up to do Michelin fine dining food, according to Kupchinsky. “And we’re doing a taqueria with that kitchen. It’s at my disposal so what can I do with it?”
The one thing they won’t be doing with it is a lot of stirred drinks like a martini—because tacos. Rather these are sophisticated drinks with a fun, festive twist. Here’s a peek at the new menu with insight by Kupchinsky.
Nice Melons: This is not a melon margarita. Nor is it the type of melon drink you’d find in other taquerias, what with ingredients like Salers gentian and white pepper and made in the style of a gimlet. But it is a light and refreshing summer drink. Kupchinsky created this because the farmers market was overflowing with melons. “‘Galia melons are really delicious right now and when I was at the market they just jumped out at me and I was ‘OK, I gotta make something with this.'”
Rosé Jose: Because rosé is hot this summer (and Kupchinsky drinks gallons of it all the time) he wanted to use the wine in a tequila cocktail. A seemingly tricky endeavor as one would assume the tequila could easily overpower the wine but here you can still pick out the vino’s characteristics. The rhubarb and pink peppercorn kick things up a notch while still allowing the rosé to shine. “I tried a couple of other things. I tried lemon basil when they were in season, I tried strawberries but it all took away from the rosé. I really wanted rosé to be the star.” Kupchinsky is hoping to put this on draft soon.
Blackbird: Breakfast inspired this shrub cocktail. Kupchinsky had previously made this drink with vanilla but after a visit to Sqirl that changed. “I got a scone at Sqirl and they gave me a blackberry lemon verbena jam and I thought to sub out the vanilla with lemon verbena.” The lemon verbena gives the cocktail a seasonal touch as opposed to the wintry coziness of vanilla.
Oaxacan Angel: You’ve never had a mezcal Old Fashioned like this one. Unlike most mezcal variations which treat the spirit like a whiskey, covering it with the baking spice qualities of Angostura bitters or even chocolate mole bitters, this one accents the brightness of the spirit. “Whiskey is aged in a barrel and has all of these baking spice qualities that come from the barrel. So when you put bitters in there it accents it. You’re accenting that quality of the spirit,” explains Kupchinsky. “But you don’t have those qualities in mezcal. You have smokiness but agave is really bright, it’s floral and it has tropical fruit notes. The Castillian bitters uses cardamom, burdock root and dandelion root. I wanted to make an Old Fashioned that goes against the grain of all other Old Fashioneds. Instead of making it darker, deeper, and richer, I wanted to make it lighter and brighter. Just pull out all the tropical fruit flavors that you could get from it.”
Not Into Yoga: For his Pina Colada, which debuts on the menu this week, Kupchinsky made use of the kitchen’s wood fire grill which the Beverly location doesn’t even have. He grilled pineapples to put in a spiced grilled pineapple syrup. And to balance out its smokiness added coffee to the coconut cream. “It’s not too heavy on either side but I like the way they meet in the middle and intermingle.”
Petty Cash AD, 712 S Santa Fe Avenue, Downtown, 213-624-0210