Falcor. Hypercolor. Mushroom tea. No, this isn’t a rundown of personal interests in my teenage years. It’s just a smattering of the kinds of pop culture references you’ll encounter as you make your way through the fall menu at Velveteen Rabbit. The 10-cocktail lineup drops September 23, also the Autumnal Equinox. In the days before those beautifully letterpressed Somersault menus arrived, I tasted my way through a few of the new drinks.
Queens Revenge | An autumnal rum-based mule by Christopher Ferri.
Dark rum, vanilla, pumpkin spice syrup, Aztec chocolate bitters, lemon and ginger beer, $10.
Ferri was inspired by a documentary on the pirate Blackbeard, whose ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, sunk off the coast of North Carolina in the 17000s. So as you sip this long, tall cooler—far more balanced and acidic than anything of the usual pumpkin-spice specialty—think about seafaring in fall in the mid-Atlantic. Are you there? Good.
Shroomin’ | A sweet, earthy punch-like sipper by Pamela Dylag.
Butter-washed brandy, dry vermouth, thyme syrup, shiitake mushroom tincture and lemon oil served chilled in a teacup, garnished with a lime leaf, $11.
If it seems like the cocktail prices have gone up since the Rabbit opened its door, that’s because they have. But for my money, the cocktails have gotten that much more complex and intriguing, with so many spices, oils, tinctures and other house-made creations that it’s never so much a question of if I’ll have another cocktail so much as it is which I’ll try next. This is a nice entrée to the new menu—herbal and sweet, but with a dry wine note from the vermouth and a clean, lemony lip-smack.
Spaghetti Western | A Caprese-inspired cocktail by Andrew Shumaker.
Gin, housemade Caprese shrub, Campari, lemon and Allspice Dram served up, topped with a mozzarella foam, balsamic vinegar drizzle and a basil leaf, $11.
Las Vegas’ first trip through the Caprese cocktail notion was a messy one, with lows that included spiked marinara sauce and other literal interpretations. The beauty of this version is the way the sweet heirloom tomatoes, basil, sugar and white balsamic vinegar come together in the Caprese shrub. The gin and Campari mesh as well as ever, and the AllSpice Dram contributes a little depth to what in the past has been a thin (or all-too-thick) one-noter. I’ll take mine without the foam and extra balsamic, though.
The Bronze Bell | A rye-based crowdpleaser by Christopher Ferri.
Rye, Aperol, lemon, demerara maple syrup and cherry bitters, $10.
These are a few of my favorite things. And they are now all in one cocktail glass. Balanced acidity and sweetness allow the citrusy Aperol and lemon to get together with the cherry bitters, while the rye takes a backseat. But for all that fruit, the only actual sweetness comes from rich Demerara maple syrup. Substituted with, say, simple syrup or St-Germain, this drink might make a beautiful summer drink, as well.
Midwest Fizz | A color-changing fantasy in the vein of the Ramos Gin Fizz by Andrew Shumaker.
Gin, fruit-veggie cream, almond, meringue and soda served over amaro-chocolate ice, $11
Unfortunately, this cocktail wasn’t available when I visited the Rabbit. But Shumaker talked me through it. Like a Hypercolor T-shirt during gym class (remember those?), this drink changes color as time passes. Spinach, green apple, cucumber, citrus and orange blossom water are combined with almond cream, gin and soda for a distinctly green gin fizz. But as the amaro-chocolate ice cubes melt, like the leaves on the trees, this drink goes from green to brown.
The Pitchfork (a.k.a. Trick-A-Drink) | An off menu treat you’ll have to ask for by name(s).
Brandy, applewood smoked Dolin Blanc dry vermouth, beer simple syrup, clove-infused organic apple cider reduction topped with cava and served over tri-color ice, MP.
Shumaker is certainly having fun with the ice program. This dry brandy cocktail will be served over three-layer ice meant to evoke candy corn, with layers of Strega, Campari and Bols Yoghurt.
Is your whistle wet? Plan your attack in advance—including Falcor Flies Again—with the entire menu, below.