BlackTail’s Gangsterismo Era Cocktail Menu

On their first anniversary, the "Best New American Cocktail Bar" introduces an engaging narrative-driven menu and drinks

At this year’s Tales of the Cocktail—the largest and most prestigious spirits and cocktail trade show in the US—New York City’s BlackTail at Pier A took home the award for “Best New American Cocktail Bar.” It wasn’t much of a surprise as the gentleman behind it also founded The Dead Rabbit, consistently ranked one of the best bars in the world. BlackTail’s quite different, however. For the last year, BlackTail’s food and drink menu (as well as the venue’s decor) drew inspiration from the American bars that prospered in Cuba during Prohibition. Upon its recent one year anniversary, the Cuba theme remained in place—but a new menu and narrative took hold. It’s still Cuban in origin, but this time the focus is the mafia-driven Gangsterismo era falling just prior to the revolution. And New York Times best-selling author TJ English penned the story that accompanies the 40 drinks.

These new cocktails, interspersed through the narrative, were developed not only by founders Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry but by the entire BlackTail bartending team. The menu breaks down into five categories: Highball, Punch, Sour, Old-Fashioned and Cocktail. Regulars will notice variations on some of the first year’s most popular drinks, as well. And as a tale of Charles “Lucky” Luciano unfolds, it’s actually quite easy to find a drink along the way. Both the beverage and the book-like menu captivate in an environment that’s quite clearly committed to its theme, but classy enough to make it all work without feeling kitschy in the slightest.

Cry Baby

Our favorite new drink‚ and certainly one of the most broadly appealing on the menu, the Cry Baby had a particular inspiration. “I was looking to have a classic style-tasting rum Manhattan variation,” Jesse Vida the Head Bartender and Bar Manager at BlackTail shares with CH, “it has deep baking spice notes with Esther intensity. Using different rums as flavor modifiers with each other.” As noted, there are multiple rums employed here and the result is rich, lavish and powerful.

2 Dashes Dales Pimento

3 oz Batch Pour

1 tsp Cinnamon

1 tsp Rum Fire

1 tsp Gingerambre

1 tsp Giffard Banane

.75 oz Cocchi Torino

.75 oz Brugal 1888

.75 oz Mount Gay XO

Ingredients are stirred and served in a cocktail glass.

Images courtesy of BlackTail