Alcohol has a history all its own. From cocktails like the Cosmopolitan, to aperitifs like brandy and liqueurs like Fernet Branca, alcohol has been known to soothe the soul and warm the heart. The word “cocktail” has many derivatives. An article in Saveur magazine mentions that the word originated in the Hudson Valley region or somewhere amongst NYC, Boston and Albany. Another story states that the term originated in New Orleans, where a beverage mixed with brandy was served in a French egg cup called a coquetier. Eventually the nickname cocktay gave way to what we now know as cocktail.
Today, alcohol is served everywhere. From bars to restaurants to concert halls and stadiums, it is threaded into American life. However, it wasn’t always simple to have a cocktail, or any alcoholic beverage for that matter. In the 1920’s and 1930’s there was prohibition. During this time, any establishment that sold alcohol unlawfully was referred to as a speakeasy. One of the oldest speakeasies in America, the 21 Club in New York, opened at the tail end of prohibition in 1930. Dozens of famous people have dined at the 21 Club throughout the years and are known to dine at the same tables upon return. The wine cellar is located underneath the building next door; which was its secret hiding spot during prohibition. Camouflaged doors and revolving bars have also helped keep the club undercover in the past. The wine cellar stores wine like Montrachet 1898 and Romanee- Conti 1880. Signature cocktails offered include Into the Woods made with Laphroaig scotch, black pepper, and peach and Changing Thymes made with Greenhook Gin, Aperol, grapefruit juice, and thyme. One classical drink offered is called the‘21’ Perfect Martini created with sweet and dry vermouth, bitters, and either Makers Mark or Bulleit Rye. They also named one of their beers on tap, Speakeasy Prohibition Ale.
If you are continuing out on the town, stop by the Blacktail, a Cuban themed bar inspired by the prohibition era. During the prohibition, some Americas escaped to Cuba for a cocktail getaway. According to the New York Times the Blacktail’s signature drink is a blend of many kinds of rum: Cana Brava, Bacardi Heritage, Banks 5 Island Blend Rum and Barbancourt white rum. And of course the Cuban themed bar offers a cocktail list including a minty mojito or strawberry daiquiri. Jack McGarry and Sean Muldoon who also own America’s best rated bar, The Dead Rabbit, located in NY City’s financial district, own Blacktail. The Dead Rabbit is a sophisticated Irish Tavern. Accolades for this bar include, World’s Best Bar, Best Bar in North America, World’s Best Cocktail Bar, Worlds Best Cocktail Menu, International Bartender of the Year, and more. The Dead Rabbit has three levels: the Taproom, the Parlor, and the Occasional. If you are looking for an all-night adventure, the Taproom is open from eleven am until four am every day of the week. One of their famous offerings is a drink called Pop-Inns which is liquor mixed with beer. They are also famous for their vast collection of whiskey. Published in their alcoholic beverage manual include some drinks like Irish coffee made with Irish whiskey, heavy cream, and Demerara sugar which is said to taste like molasses and caramel. They also offer Maiden’s Blush consisting of raspberry cordial, lemon, absinthe and gin.
It is always fun to visit destinations with a lot of history behind. If you are seeking a timely adventure a few places to escape to for a night out with beer in one hand and an old fashion in the other would be 21 club of Nyc, Blacktail, and The Dead Rabbit.