Omnivore - Ticonderoga Club debuts new cocktail menu
Greg Best and Paul Calvert, like many of us, are inspired by day drinking
There aren't many bars in town that warrant watching when they make a change to their cocktail menu. Ticonderoga Club is absolutely one of them, though, thanks to the prodigious potent potable prowess of partner/bartenders Greg Best and Paul Calvert. Since it opened last fall, Ticonderoga Club has had just one cocktail menu, featuring a mere seven unique drinks that quickly won raves from Atlanta cocktail-fiends. As of next Monday, that menu will be (almost) completely changed over, to better answer to the warmer days of spring and summer to come. While the Ticonderoga Cup remains, gone are the Bitter Southerner #2, the Buckskin Playmate, the Long Henry. In their place? Calvert let us in on the philosophy behind the original menu and the concoctions to come, which may be found in limited previews this weekend before officially debuting next Monday.
The guiding philosophy behind all of the drinks at TC is to offer beverages that pair well with (chef) David's food. For cocktails, this means a regular and inventive use of fortified wines and a definite lean toward the dry and savory. However, even with this in mind, our goal for cocktails has always been a return to elegance and simplicity. Fewer ingredients, fewer trends, more of an acknowledgement of classic cocktails and classic styles... (with) a greater focus on each drink's ability to become permanent: a house classic, an Atlanta classic, a modern classic. From the opening menu, the Ticonderoga Cup was meant to be the embodiment of the bar's spirit - Calvert calls it their North Star - as a drink with complexity and intrigue in equal measure. The Ticonderoga Cup won over fans by wedding cognac, sherry, and rum into a heavy-hitting base accented with refreshing pineapple, lemon, and mint. But it's hard to dismiss any of the drinks on Ticonderoga Club's opening list when it comes to worthiness as a classic. The Bitter Southerner #2 with its Peychaud's-spiked hue and bitter intensity? Thread & Theory with its deep interplay of aged rum, sorghum, and amaro? Buckskin Playmate with its clever Sazerac-like use of herbsaint against both bourbon and rye with a splash of Madeira thrown in? "I know Greg will miss the Buckskin Playmate most of all," Calvert says, "and hopefully the popularity of these drinks means they will get a shot at a return next winter." (Hint: you can also request one of the original drinks, and there's a very good chance the right ingredients will be behind the bar to fulfill your request.)
As for new menu, the timing aligns with the arrival of spring, so the drinks are taking on lighter profiles. The Ticonderoga Cup is joined by six new companions. Calvert says the recipes still favor rum, brandy, sherry, and vermouth - ingredients that are high on flavor (still no vodka on this list) but can also make for a lively drink, well-suited to warm nights (and afternoons).
We didn't necessarily plan it at the time, but the idea of 'day-drinking' seems to have had some influence on the menu overall. The Poor Fella is inspired by the classic northern Spanish festival drink 'Kalimotxa,' with red wine and Coke. The Long Bottom Stretch - our first on-menu gin cocktail - began its life as an answer to the question: what would a Ticonderoga house gin-tonic taste like? The Yachtsman is modeled on a classic rum and Madeira punch, rum-punch being something I drank during the day when I was home from college in summer (although I recall ours absent the Madeira and blended instead with watermelon and wine cooler). Even the Yankee Dollar, which is the most bitter and boozy drink on the new menu, is the result of wanting to celebrate my love of cherry Coke. In addition to the new cocktails, Ticonderoga Club will continue to offer a short but well-chosen list of beers, wines, cider, fortified wines, and sherry (by the bottle!). One of the most unique mixed drinks on the menu - the Hootchy Cider Punch - doesn't even show up with the rest of the cocktails, but rather under the cider section. The delightfully-named drink mixes French cidre extra brut, a housemade Amer Picon (bitter orange liqueur, here dubbed Amer Ticon), and house bitters, bringing a barnyard-funk-forward flavor that will please fans of the farm ciders of Normandy. Calvert also shares that he has an "amazing rum and mezcal" selection lined up for the warmer months, just in case you're in the mood for booze in its unmixed form. But what fun is that when the cocktails are this interesting?