Taste-testing new cocktails with the Wobbly Olive

As RMFR first reported a few weeks ago, the team at The Wobbly Olive has created an epic new cocktail menu for the winter season — and it dropped yesterday.  The day before, on Wednesday, the restaurant invited the Report to a small tasting of cocktails from its new menu, looking to get feedback from a group of diners on some recipes in the works.

It really was unnecessary, because if we learned one thing it’s that Wobbly Olive knows cocktails. Throughout the night, drinks demonstrated impressive creativity, fun use of under-used alcohols, and great balance.

A big menu can sometimes be a warning sign of a muddled experience, but these were all distinct in a strong way. Impressive showing, and according to Sean Fitzgerald, who owns the restaurant with wife Inez, the neighborhood is responding to the couple’s efforts to keep craft alive on Powers Boulevard.

“As far as running a business of this demand, it’s something that I’ve never done before,” says Sean. “It was a huge undertaking and we didn’t know how it was going to be received on this side of town. And so far it’s been received very well.”

Here are some of my favorites. Any one of these will treat you right, especially if you’re not the bourbon-and-bitters type. (Warning: A few potato-quality photos ahead.)

Wanderlust ($9)

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Ingredients: Esprit de June, Framboise liqueur, lemon juice, Secco

Tasting notes: Grapefruit; light bitterness; passion fruit

Fitzgerald’s take: “Esprit de June is so good, but it didn’t work with anything. It was so good and we just tried and tried and tried, and it just kept getting beat up. We felt with Framboise it actually worked — it played really well. … That was really our thing: We get stuck on an ingredient,  we just keep working until we find something to make it work.”

Trust Me I’m Irish ($10)

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Ingredients: Kern Irish Whiskey, Rothman & Winter Orchard Pear, Domaine de Canton, honey syrup, lemon juice

Tasting notes: Clean, distinct flavors; candied pear; warm, boozy bite

Fitzgerald’s take: “My distributor introduced me to an Irish whiskey called Kern. The stuff’s amazing. I love to mix with it. It’s affordable, it’s sweet, it’s fantastic. I wanted to make a sweet whiskey martini. … The pear, the ginger and then the Kern worked amazing together.”

Death & Company ($11)

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Ingredients: Larceny, coffee-infused Carpano AnticaLeopold Bros. FrenchPress-Style American Coffee Liqueur, demerara syrup, egg yolk, heavy cream

Tasting notes: Roasted coffee; cream; booze-kicked breakfast.

Fitzgerald’s take: “One of our favorite bars in New York is called Death & Company, and we found a drink on there that we absolutely fell in love with. We didn’t want to completely bite their style, so we changed a few ingredients. We’re using Leopold Bros.’ liqueur. … Our employees drink the absolute crap out of this. The reason it’s $11 is there’s more alcohol in this, and a higher proof, than an Old Fashioned. Yeah: white-girl wasted.”

A Study in Pink ($10)

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Ingredients: Redemption Rye, Strega, SOLERNO, Fee Brothers Old Fashion Bitters, lemon juice, spiced raspberry syrup

Tasting notes: Orange oils; balanced sweetness; bitterness on the finish

Fitzgerald’s take: “We got into Sherlock on BBC. And so the very first book was A Study in Scarlet, the very first episode was “A Study in Pink,” so we had to name it that because we were literally balls-deep in that episode. I bought this Strega, kind of a licorice digestif, for Valentine’s Day. Nobody ordered any, and I didn’t know how to sell it either. … We started messing around one night after we closed, just trying to get rid of the bottle, and we just came up with this drink.”

Fun in the Tub ($10)

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Ingredients: Lee Spirits Co.’s gin, lychee liqueur, lime juice, Senior & Co.’s Genuine Curaçao Liqueur, coconut, egg white

Tasting notes: Clean; coconut; sweet citrus

Fitzgerald’s take: “This drink started completely backwards. It wasn’t based on any spirit, it was based on we were on Amazon looking at stuff for our kids for Christmas, and we saw these cool little duckies. … We had a free bottle of lychee liqueur and started messing around with that. … The customer gets to keep the rubber ducky, because I want this to be our Golden Bee. My whole dashboard used to be full of little stickers from the Golden Bee, so I want this to be the same thing.”

Mayan Riviera ($10)

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Ingredients: Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum, Myers’s Rum,  lime juice, spiced raspberry, grapefruit juice, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram

Tasting notes: Tropical spiced-cider; Christmas-y

Fitzgerald’s take: “We really wanted to start doing tiki drinks, because they’re fun, they’re cool as hell, and from my perspective, when your neighbor orders one, people are going to say, ‘Ooh, I want that as well.’ … There are three tiki drinks [on the menu], all presented differently: One has a stand-up flamingo that obviously the customer gets to keep; this one’s on fire; and the Planter’s Punch has a nice orchid leaf and then a lime wedge.”

[Images: Bryce Crawford]