Bittercube celebrates Prohibition repeal in style

Monday night marked the 78th anniversary of the repeal of alcohol prohibition in the United States, and to celebrate, the creative minds of Bittercube Bitters (Nick Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz) crafted six cocktails based on Prohibition-era recipes. Each drink was given the Bittercube treatment with improved ingredients, and each incorporated a dusty vintage bottle out of their collection. The Hot Dish was on the scene and thirsty for details. This is what we found.

The first cocktail of the evening was Captain Truman Evolved. Koplowitz explained this one as a riff of a riff. "President Truman drank French 75s with cognac as the base instead of gin. Ours follows suit, and we also add a Bittercube ginger liqueur that adds a spicy element, and the cognac we are using is Pierre Ferrand 1840.

Next up was the Tax Stamped Top Hat, a sidecar variation using a vintage bottle of Dujardin brandy and substituting Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur for the traditional orange liqueur.

After that it was time for the Improved Gin Cocktail. One of the most impressive of the vintage bottles used was the the federal and state tax-stamped Yellow Chartreuse. These tax stamps date the bottle to at least the early 1970s, which is cool enough alone, but Chartreuse is a spirit that continues to evolve in the bottle, so finding one so old allowed us to taste something very unique. The cocktail was based off of the original Improved Cocktail from the Jerry Thomas Bartenders Guide 1876 reprint. The Bittercube version uses that vintage Yellow Chartreuse in place of the traditional Maraschino.

The fifth cocktail of the evening was the La Femme Rouge, another riff of a riff. This one is a loose play off of an Absinthe Suisse, which is in turn a variation of the Suissesse Cocktail, an old New Orleans drink first published in 1937 in the book Famous New Orleans Drinks, and How to Mix 'Em. This version used Amerique Absinthe Rouge and a delicious orange liqueur made by Bittercube.

The final libation of the evening was the MacGregor Cocktail, a variation of a Rob Roy, which is a variation on a Manhattan using Scotch. The Bittercube version uses a whiskey that blends a single malt and a bourbon, as well as their own Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters, which are the perfect complement to any Manhattan-style cocktail. This one was garnished with Wisconsin cherries that were so good at least one person I saw stole the cherry out of her companion's glass when he wasn't looking.

The event was held at the Dining Studio, part of the Create catering company, which made appetizers to pair with each cocktail while a DJ played music from long ago, perfectly rounding out the evening's feel.

It was a fun evening full of wonderful people, food, drinks, and music. I couldn't help but wonder why more people don't celebrate this day of regained freedom. After all those years of repression, I would have thought of making it a national holiday.

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