Jason Cott on Bar Seven Five's Portable Bar Program, Cocktail Consulting & Getting in on the Tiki Craze Before it Started
Andaz Hotels enlisted Alchemy Consulting to craft the classic cocktails for Bar Seven Five, set to open January 25 in the new Andaz Wall Street hotel. Jason Cott, one of the partners in Alchemy, reveals what to expect from the new bar, how he likes to recover from a bender, and why he was never afraid of the Angostura shortage.
Get these drinks tableside at Bar Seven Five.
What is the concept behind the new bar?
Just like the entire Andaz Hotel, the philosophy is based on being in a friend's kitchen. [In the kitchen,] it's a very communal atmosphere, with no staid responsibilities for the staff. The bar is the same. It's not one long bar -- it's different pods. The bartenders and servers work together, and the guests are closer to the action.
Drawing on the past, we were inspired by the Pullman trains during pre-Prohibition, where people could get five-star cocktails right on the train. The train was always moving and there was no main back bar, so the servers had to come to you. We came up with these "Pullman shakers," so servers can shake [and pour] the tins tableside. And, instead of trays, we have Pullman caddies, which are much more portable and ergonomically correct.
Is there a house specialty?
Again, drawing on the pre-Prohibition and Prohibition eras, our signature cocktail is the Se7en Five Smash, which is made with Lairds Bonded Applejack, fresh lemon juice, fresh mint, and Fees Old Fashioned Bitters. We also have a Dark & Stormy, made with Cruzan Black Strap, fresh lime juice, and house-made ginger syrup. It's really spicy and delicious, if you like ginger. And there's also the Perfect Pearl Manhattan, which has Bulleit Bourbon, Dolin Sweet and Dry Vermouth, and just a rinse of Lagavulin Scotch, for a touch of peatiness.
You mentioned bitters in one of your drinks. Are you concerned about the Angostura shortage?
There never really was going to be a shortage. They went into receivership and were bought out, that's all. I'm confident they won't run out.
You use Fees. Do you think that the panic over the Angostura shortage is an opportunity for other bitters makers to break into the market?
Yes. Bitters is more in fashion. It's the salt and pepper of cocktails. Finding the correct bitters for the correct drink is tantamount to its success. Angostura's is delicious, but it's not right for every drink. Alchemy has created 20-25 different bitters at our bar in Chicago (The Violet Hour). There's a chance we'll get to create our own bitters at Bar Seven Five.