We don’t expect “respectable” bars and drinking establishments to serve things like Jell-O shots or slushies. But these bars are taking throwbacks and reinventing the retro cocktails we know and love with fresh ingredients and quality liquors. From the Piña Colada to the Hand Grenade, these NYC hotspots are whipping up new takes on old classics.
The Piña Colada gets a bad rap from too-sweet mixes poured out of a carton, but in Puerto Rico in the 1950s it was made with fresh pineapple juice and Coco Lopez. At Tacombi Café El Presidente, they’re taking the Piña Colada back to its roots with fresh juices poured over rocks. Jell-O shots bring back hazy memories of college parties and questionable decisions. But the combination of sugar and cheap liquor has no place at The Meatball Shop. Wanting drinks as fun as their food, they came up with a selection of classier takes on a favorite from a champagne based French 75 to a Greyhound. Creator Skye LaTorre says you can make any cocktail with gelatin with a little experimentation.
Channeling the classic New Orleans Hand Grenade found on Bourbon Street, Porchlight Bar serves up the Gun Metal Blue. The ingredients in the official Hand Grenade are top secret, so this concoction contains blue curaçao, mescal, peach brandy, and homemade bitter cinnamon syrup and topped off with a flaming orange peel. Despite its intense name, the Gun Metal Blue knows how to have a good time. The Happiest Hour lives up to its name with retro frozen drinks made in a slushy machine. The selection changes weekly but a favorite is the “grandfather of the Mai Tai” called the Golden Gloves. Even though they’re made in a machine you could find at any 7-Eleven, these carefully made slushies contain craft cocktail ingredients.
Feeling nostalgic for these cocktail classics? Whip up one of your own.