As I mentioned in my previous column, the quest for the perfect cocktail is like searching through a Pete’s Candy store. Achieving the balance between what your palate craves and what your night requires can be tricky, but it’s always rewarding. With careful guidance from your bartender (ALTYB=Always Trust Your Bartender), you will find the right cocktail for you. That’s how my night unfolded in Skytown under Shantel Grant’s guidance. The list was small – pretty much classic cocktails – so I picked one of those to start. For my next ones, however, Shantel opened up her notebook and made me an East Side.
The cocktail’s color is a pleasing golden green and the garnish immediately tells you that this cocktail is made with mint and cucumber. The garnish also plays an olfactory role, building on the aromatic relationship between the cucumber and the mint. Cucumber and mint are muddled along with lime and simple syrup and gin takes center stage. This is a beautifully simple combination of ingredients that dates back to Prohibition.
The East Side is one of the classics – and Shantel really appreciates the classics. “During the era of prohibition,” Shantel told me via email, “[Spirits] tasted awful served alone, so bartenders making cocktails at that time had to try and craft cocktails that could mask that.” Their recipes contained five ingredients or less, Shantel later explained, and with today’s quality spirits these cocktail recipes don’t mask anything, they elevate it instead. At the bar, our conversation extended to those around us, and we came up with the metaphor that cocktails today are like covers to classic songs. Appreciating a classic cocktail is like listening to a classic song. All others are somehow covers of that classic.
Drinking a classic is a great way also to bring back the “spirits” of the roaring twenties to your night. As much as the The Great Gatsby has been overplayed to a cliche level, who wouldn’t want to attend a party hosted by Jay Gatsby? Who wouldn’t want to drink like the Lost Generation?
The East Side is served at Skytown, 921 Broadway for $10.
Bushwick Mixer is a weekly column somewhere at the crossroads of pop culture and mixology in the bars of Bushwick. Hashtag your photos of Bushwick cocktails with #BushwickMixer and let us know why they should be tasted by the author of the column.