It’s already been proven that Corduroy is more than just “that ’70s bar,” and its beverage program backs up the claims. Here’s seven standouts on the menu.
Sex on the Beach, $7
Stoli Blueberi, lemon juice, pineapple juice, Bols Peach liqueur, cranberry juice and berries
Gen-Xers will recall the Capri Sun pouch with a mixture of pleasure and pain; remember what it was like when the straw bent and split and wouldn’t pierce the pouch?! Agony. You won’t have any issues this time as this grown-up Capri Sun comes pre-strawed. And with booze. “On the technical side, we swapped out the orange juice for fresh lemon; we felt like it balanced it out a little bit better,” Gutierrez says. “And it’s basically up to the bartender to tie the straw in the way that they’d like to. [Bartender] Alex Penalosa likes to tie it in a knot and tell women he did it with his tongue.” So there you have it.
Moscow Mule, $10
Ketel One Vodka, lime juice and house-made ginger beer on draft (also available with rye for a Frontier Mule)
Before making the jump to Corduroy, Gutierrez was serving eight mule varieties at Oak & Ivy in Downtown Container Park. His recipes are therefore tried and true, only now he uses use a Cornelius keg draft system to highly carbonate them and push them out fast. For his spicy ginger beer, Gutierrez uses a macerating juicer and is going through fresh ginger in the triple digits. A dedicated machine crushes ice so the drinks can fly over the bar. During happy hour, the price drops to $6.50.
Screaming Viking, $10
Only Gutierrez can explain this one.
“This is definitely my favorite story on the menu: So, I’m gonna say that it was Season 6 of Cheers, but I can’t remember the exact one. So, Sam Malone has had it, and he buys a sailboat and decides he’s out. He goes and sails the world, wrecks the boat. Shipwrecked. Comes back with his tail between his legs and he needs a job. Finds the new bar manager, Wayne, behind the bar, and Wayne knows everything there is to know about cocktails. He’s also not afraid to tell you. Wayne knows how to make every drink that there is, so he says. The rest of the staff is done with him, and they say, ‘You know what? If somebody comes in today and they order a drink that you don’t know, you gotta go.’ He says, ‘Well, what do I get if I know everything?’ And they say, ‘You can have Sam’s sailboat.’ The wrecked one. [Wayne’s] such a douchebag, he says, ‘Oh, I love sailing!’
“Norm comes in pretending he’s never been there before, and he says, ‘Hmm, what’ll it be? I suppose I’ll have a Screaming Viking.’ And Wayne says, ‘You mean a Dirty Swede?’ ‘No, sir, a Screaming Viking.’ And [Wayne] gets mad; he says, ‘This guy’s making this drink up! It’s not real!’ Then another guy comes in and says, ‘Hey, I’ll have two Screaming Vikings.’ So Wayne basically has a meltdown behind the bar because he doesn’t know how to make a Screaming Viking. [Including the drink on our menu] is supposed to be, like, this gripe against someone who takes their mixology too seriously, versus bartending and serving guests.”
So, what’s actually in the drink, you might be wondering? “We don’t know what’s in a Screaming Viking!” Gutierrez admits. “The only thing I know is, Woody comes up behind Wayne and says [to Norm], ‘Would you like your cucumber bruised?’ And Norm says, ‘Slightly.’ So the only thing we know about the drink is that there’s cucumber in it. I served it up: Hendrick’s Gin, St-Germain elderflower liqueur, cucumber and lime. It’s tasty and people do love it, but it also has a pretty fun backstory, too. You have to look it up on YouTube; it’s a great little clip.”
Raoul Duke, $10
Tanqueray gin, Cherry Heering, triple sec, Bénédictine, Angostura aromatic bitters, grenadine, lime juice and pineapple juice served with a shot of mezcal
Early on, the space that is now Corduroy was intended to become a cocktail bar called The Vault. While that project eventually morphed into the cheekier Corduroy, one cocktail survived. “Raoul Duke is named after the main character in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. When he’s hanging out in Las Vegas lounges, he drinks Singapore slings with mezcal sides.” Originally the drink with the little sidecar shot was meant to be a part of a larger Vault menu called “Fact or Fiction,” inspired by cultural references and what history tells us they drank, such as JFK’s Havana Club Daiquiri and a Marilyn Monroe Manhattan. “Faulkner used to drink juleps. Hemingway—you can make a ton of cocktails for Hemingway. … Bill Murray from Groundhog Day: sweet vermouth on the rocks.” Along the same lines from literature and film comes the Raoul Duke, the only drink to make the bar crossover.
Long Island Iced Tea, $12
Absolut Vodka, Seagram’s Gin, J Wray rum, Jose Cuervo Tradicional tequila, simple syrup, lemon juice, triple sec and cola
In addition to the Tokyo Tea and AMF (Adios Motherfucker), the Long Island Tea is one of the most-ordered drinks on Fremont Street, Gutierrez says. But, of course, his has to be a step up. He pre-blends all four clear liquors in a liter bottle with his simple syrup, as that’s the base for all three drinks. After a jaw-dropping 20-count pour, he adds lemon juice and the cordial and soda that differentiate the recipes: triple sec and cola for the LIT, Midori and 7Up for the Tokyo Tea, blue Curaçao and 7Up for the AMF. Now, part of the fun of ordering on of the Three Teas is watching the bartender grab all four clear liquors from the well and pour them at the same time. So how have crowds reacted to Gutierrez’s smart shortcut? Hasn’t anyone asked him where the other three bottles are? “Never, and I’m scared about it,” he says. “They’ve never asked. Not once.” Hmmm …
Tequila Sunrise, $10
Altos Tequila, crème de cassis, lime juice and soda
No frat party or college bar Tequila Sunrise can even hold a candle to Gutierrez’s recipe. “We’re basically trying to go down the road of the classic-style Tequila Sunrise, not the one that was popularized in the late [20th] century. It’s awesome for our menu because it sounds approachable, it looks familiar, but then when you try it, you can taste the difference.” Basically a tequila lime cooler, Gutierrez says, his version is tequila, fresh lime instead of orange juice, plus soda water, a touch of simple and crème de cassis over crushed ice. “We talked earlier about how we want to build to serve everybody,” Gutierrez says. “Another thing was that we want to specifically be a bar that we would want to drink at ourselves.”
Stag Party, $10
Skipper Rum, Jägermeister, lime juice and pineapple juice
One of just a few originals on the menu, this one still has its roots in another drink. The inspiration for this cocktail was the Jungle Bird, a drink that itself has been passed around like a dog-eared copy of a good book: purportedly created in the 1970s, recorded and quickly forgotten in the 1980s, rediscovered in the 1990s by tiki authority Jeff “Beachbum” Berry and later resurrected by him in 2002, and then finally perfected by bar owner Giuseppe Gonzalez in 2010. “We started there. Vedo [Pitnjakovic, bartender] and I had a conversation about it: It’s almost walking the line between a Surfer on Acid and a Jungle Bird,” Gutierrez says. “The name was literally just spitballing and having fun with it. The look we were all about, too. We’re lucky enough to have the crushed ice [machine] and some interesting-looking glassware that we can feature, as well.”