Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour's Third Annual Book o' Cocktails
The third annual Book o' Cocktails at local and national award-winning Bitter and Twisted debuts on Tuesday, May 3rd, and the entertaining and comprehensive libation list is an ode to retro pop art. This time, proprietor Ross Simon was inspired by 8-bit video games, and references are illustrated throughout by artist Matt Andrews. I recognized the cover immediately from my '80s arcade-visiting days as an homage to Asteroids, although instead of space rocks, these are a nod to Bitter and Twisted's stellar ice program.
This 31-page book lists over 60 cocktails, including 21 new libations under Let's Get Cookin'. The video gamers of the 1980s will recognize that Root Beer Tapper has turned into Bitter and Twisted. Look closely and you may recognize some of the bartenders and video game characters. Other pages include nine more categories such as Retro Drinking, Friends with Benefits (paying tribute to bar industry friends across the globe), Luminous Libations, Let them Drink Punch, and the Bitter Hall of Fame with Shot O'Clock (I loved Brian's Cinnamon Whiskey).
For the Fabulous Flying Negronis, “We’ve given the Negroni an entire page because I think it deserves it," Ross said. He was inspired by a visit to Bar Termini in London, where they sous-vide Negronis with rose petals. At Bitter and Twisted, they will be subtly flavored with chamomile, tea, rose, and jasmine.
Looking for suggestions on your next visit? I had a media sneak peek of nine delicious, inventive cocktails off the new menu.
Jefferson's Clarified Milk Punch employs a centuries-old technique with ingredients that include milk, rum, orange sherbet, pineapple juice, and lemon:
The whimsical Bear Witness is made with Kikori Japanese Whisky, grapefruit, lemon, yuzu marmalade, and pink peppercorn syrup:
Combining Hendrick's Gin, cucumber, lime, and club soda is the light and refreshing Mr. Hendrick's.
A wine cocktail, Quit Your Wining mixed up red wine, freshly-pressed pineapple juice, raspberries and a hint of vanilla.
Two kinds of rum - Flor de Cana and Smith & Cross - are in the Hemingway's Demise, along with Maraschino, lime juice, bitters and an Absinthe rinse.
The vibrant Porn Star Martini under the Friends with Benefits category (created by London's Douglas Ankrah) is shaken up with sous-vide vanilla vodka and passionfruit and served with a side of bubbles. The Sotol Tale, a sultry riff on the Martinez, mixes sotol, a unique spirit distilled from the desert spoon, with house sweet vermouth, maraschino, and a dash of bitters.
As a long-time Negroni fan (I actually met Ross seven years ago when he made me one at Prado), it's no surprise that the Camomilla with gin, Campari, sweet vermouth, and delicate chamomile overtones was a personal favorite.
The perfect dessert cocktail? A boozy take on a root beer float called Cocaine Cowboy spiked with Smith and Cross rum and Bison Grass vodka with sarsaparilla and vanilla cream.
Ross explained his intent with this menu. He wanted a list that was informative and detailed but fun and engaging to peruse, with "a little bit of geekery sprinkled in there." Helpful guides include a Top Ten Greatest list and a scatter graph of colored asteroids corresponding to categories and numbers to help customers decide if they want to "Play it Safe" with classics or be "Divergent."
"So, even though it reads as really simple, there’s a lot of work that goes into these," Ross noted. "We don’t want to bore our guests with how much effort went into them because we want them to be fun and, at the end of the day, tasty drinks.” Mission accomplished!