In the last 10 years or so, geeky has gone mainstream. Our biggest hit movies and TV shows are full of superheroes, wizards and dragons, and Comic-Con is where you’ll find all the latest on your favorite franchises.
Comic books used to be just for kids, but the annual convention in San Diego proves that graphic adventures are probably more popular with grown-ups. And with Comic-Con opening next week, we wanted to make sure that fans over 21 can celebrate with a tasty beverage or two. That’s why we asked comic book-loving bartenders and cocktail experts around the country to share their recipes for the occasion.
True to the original Comic-Con spirit, these drinks are all inspired by actual comic books. (Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones certainly provide cocktail fodder, but they aren’t comics!) Enjoy them while you follow all the fun and news from the Con, or if you’re lucky enough to be attending, from your flask while you wait in line for panels.
By Al Sotack, Jupiter Disco, New York
A Pennsylvania native, Al Sotack made his mixological name running The Franklin in Philadelphia, where this cocktail was a perennial favorite. The elegant and refreshing highball is named for his favorite X-Man, an urbane telepath who would obviously be a gin drinker in real life. Sotack is now living in New York, where he’s about to open his new bar, Jupiter Disco, in Bushwick, but rest assured there’ll be plenty more comic book-themed drinks on the menu there too.
• 2 oz. Plymouth Gin
• 1 oz. Cocchi Americano
• ¼ oz. Crème de violette
• ¾ oz. Lemon juice
• ½ oz. Grapefruit syrup (infuse grapefruit peel in simple syrup overnight)
• Club Soda
Add all the ingredients except the club soda to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice. Top with club soda and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
By Ross Simon, Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour, Phoenix
Bitter & Twisted serves some of the best cocktails in Phoenix, but it’s not immune to fun: The current drink menu is 8-bit video game themed, with design inspired by old-school titles from Tapper to Metroid. This cocktail is from the Villains Ball, a special menu of comic-book-villain cocktails Simon created during last year’s Comic-Con. Inspired by Fantastic Four arch nemesis Dr. Doom, it mixes sweet-tart berry puree and liqueurs and spicy ginger beer with Irish whiskey for a deceptively powerful beverage.
• 1½ oz. Irish whiskey
• ½ oz. Three-berry liqueur (equal parts Massenez Creme de Fraise, Creme de Framboise and Creme de Mure)
• ½ oz. Three-berry puree (equal parts strawberry, blackberry and raspberry)
• ¾ oz. lime juice
• 1½ oz. Ginger beer
• Club Soda
Add the whiskey, liqueur, puree and lime juice to a tall glass and fill with crushed ice. Add the ginger beer, stir briefly and top with a splash of club soda. Garnish with fresh berries, a mint sprig and a dusting of powdered sugar.
By David Solmonson, 12 Bottle Bar
This drink wasn’t just inspired by a comic; it’ll actually be published in a comic book! David Solmonson, one half of the husband-and-wife team behind cocktail blog (and book) 12 Bottle Bar, is a huge comic book fan, and a series of his drink recipes will be appearing in upcoming issues from indie comic publisher Valiant. This tiki drink was inspired by Harbinger, one of Valiant’s most popular titles, and Solmonson’s own description says it all: “It’s blue! It’s sweet! It’s on fire! And it sparks!”
• 2 oz. White rum
• ½ oz. Blue Curaçao
• 1½ oz. Pineapple juice
• 1 oz. Coconut water
• ½ oz. Freshly squeezed lime juice (save a juiced lime half)
• 1 oz. Simple syrup (1 part sugar, 1 part water)
• 1 dash Vanilla extract
Add all the ingredients to a double Old Fashioned glass filled with crushed ice and stir to combine. For garnish, place a sugar cube in a juiced lime half, douse with 151-proof rum and place atop the drink. Carefully set on fire and sprinkle with grated cinnamon for sparks.
By Jesse Card, Bit House Saloon, Portland, Ore.
Housed in a building dating to 1896, Bit House looks like your typical old-timey cocktail bar, and it specializes in single-barrel spirits. But it’s not a pretentious spot—frozen-drink machines are right there alongside the fancy whiskies. And barman Jesse Card turns to comics frequently for cocktail inspiration. This sophisticated brandy swizzle is named for Card’s favorite sidekick of all time: Axe Cop’s Wexter, a flying, fire-breathing dinosaur with Gatling guns for arms.
• 1 oz. Germain-Robin Single Barrel Brandy
• ¾ oz. Pear liqueur
• ¾ oz. lemon
• ¾ oz. Pedro Ximenez sherry
• ¾ oz. Fresh lime juice
• 2 dashes Bittercube Blackstrap Bitters
Add all the ingredients to an Old Fashioned glass filled with crushed ice, and stir to combine. Top with additional crushed ice and garnish with a toy dinosaur, pear slices, mint sprigs and a few spritzes of Salted Almond Mist*.
To make Salted Almond Mist Add 2½ oz. water, 1 tsp. salt and 20 drops almond extract to an atomizer and shake to combine.
By Jordan Gold, Magixology, Los Angeles
Jordan Gold is a skilled bartender and a skilled sleight-of-hand magician, and his event company Magixology combines both the mixological and prestidigitational arts; it should come as no surprise that he’s a comics geek too. The Green Arrow cocktail started with the garnish, which should be made with a lime peel and not lemon, but Gold says limes aren’t strong enough to poke through cherries. The drink is a variation on the Greenpoint, a modern classic created at the legendary Milk & Honey bar in New York.
• 1½ oz. Jameson Special Reserve 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey
• 1 oz. Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth
• ½ oz. Green Chartreuse
Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir, and strain into a coupe glass. Cut out an arrow shape from lemon peel and poke through a cherry for garnish.
By Arturo Vera-Felicie, Justus Drugstore, Smithville, Mo.
OK, July might not be the best time in the world for a hot drink, but this one was inspired by Brian Wood’s Northlanders, a series about Vikings. Taking a cue from the Vikings’ medieval conquest of Normandy, France, bartender Arturo Vera-Felicie created this twist on the classic Irish Coffee using the region’s tasty apple brandy, calvados. It was a favorite last winter at his bar just outside Kansas City. To make the drink Arturo’s way, whip a little orange bitters and orange liqueur in with the cream for an extra hit of citrus.
• 1½ oz. VS calvados
• ½ oz. Coffee syrup (1 part double-strength brewed coffee, 1 part sugar)
• Hot water
• Cream, whisked until thick and frothy
Add the calvados and coffee syrup to a mug. Fill with hot water, leaving half an inch or so of space in the mug, and stir to combine. Top with cream and garnish with a spritz of Angostura Bitters and a roasted cinnamon stick.
IS SHE THE CAUSE?
By Steva Casey, Saturn, Birmingham, Ala.
Named for a line on the cover of Batman #181, the 1966 issue that marked the first appearance of Poison Ivy, this powerful stirred drink is appropriately botanical, incorporating Chartreuse’s floral earthiness, mezcal’s smoky pepper and a bit of spicy heat. At a series of Birmingham’s finest watering holes—currently the indie music venue Saturn—creator Steva Casey has brought literary inspiration both high- and lowbrow to her cocktails, though her interests always tend toward the geeky: She also makes extensive use of a Death Star-shaped ice mold.
Is She the Cause?
• Green Chartreuse
• 2 oz. Del Maguey Vida Mezcal
• 1 oz. Dolin Blanc Vermouth
• 2 drops Rose water
• 2 drops Hellfire bitters or other spicy bitters
Rinse a coupe glass with Chartreuse and set aside. Add the remaining ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir until very cold and strain into the prepared glass.
AND NOW, A WORD FROM SOME BARTENDERS