Michael Neff pours the Cottonmouth Club’s eponymous cocktail into a rocks glass. Before sliding it over, he pulls a colorful disc from behind the bar and gently drops it over the drink’s foamy-white top. Peering down, we realize it’s an image that pays tribute to Led Zeppelin. Amazing.
The band is one of this recently opened, unpretentious downtown hideaway’s 40 patron saints, who line the front of its bar, play on its speakers, and grace both its walls and its drinks. There’s Paul Stanley of KISS, Warren Zevon, Madonna, David Bowie—anyone who, during the late 1970s and early ’80s, played a role in shaping the lives of co-owners/bartenders/New York–area natives Neff and Mike Raymond (who also owns Reserve 101).
A smooth drink with a creamy, sweet encore, the Cottonmouth Club stars a house-blended whisky, the most recent batch of which features a base of the Canadian whisky Legacy, along with “flavoring” spirits that include Crown Royal, Wild Turkey 101, Balcones Baby Blue, and a few others, aged in an old bourbon barrel. Brazilian cachaça adds a candy sweetness, while Peychaud’s bitters bring rusticity. Egg white thickens it up; lemon opens it up; berry gives it a kick. No mystery there.
But how do they make those cool patron-saint drink toppers? “That,” says Neff, “is a secret.”
Recipe: The Cottonmouth Club
- 1 1/2 oz. whisky (Neff suggests Maker’s Mark or Maker’s 46)
- 1/2 oz. Avuá Amburana Cachaça
- 3/4 oz. lemon juice
- 2 strawberries
- 2 blueberries
- 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
- Egg white
- 1/2 oz. simple syrup
Muddle berries. Combine other ingredients and dry-shake to foam the egg white. Add ice and shake again. Serve over ice. Insert head-bangin’ rock.