TAVERN DRINKS

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In the American colonies, in 1832, the ‘Pioneer Inns and Taverns Law’ created a new type of licence that allowed inns to serve alcoholic beverages without having to lease rooms. 

This was the creation of the ‘bar’ as we would come to know it and with it came a whole host of new mixed drinks.

Despite having access to a very small amount of ingredients, colonial drinkers came up with a large variety of recipes. Some were a little rough around the edges, and seemingly identical to one another but always rich with backstory and colourful names. 

These are just a few of our favourites at Blind Tyger, some of which can be found in the menu.

Stone Fence

The Green Tavern Boys, led by the bibulous Ethan Allen, were a group of infamous militia fond of driving off New ‘Yorkers’; until they set their sights on the Brits who had established themselves at nearby fort Ticonderoga. The night before their planned siege the ‘boys’ were having their favourite drink, which was hard cider with a shot of rum. The next day they unexpectantly walked straight into the fort, past the one slumbering guard and took the post unchallenged.

If you were to make this drink faithfully it wouldn’t be very impressive for anyone involved. So, we’ve re-purposed it to be more ‘mojito’ like by keeping the rum element but elongating the serve with an apple kombucha and mint. 

Switchel

A typical day for the Vermont farmer was long, hard and thirsty. That thirst was often quenched by beer, cider or fermented fruit vinegar. Citrus fruit was hard to come by, so creating kinds of vinegar was a great preservation method, incorporating the necessary electrolytes and also adding that desired ‘zing’ to mixed drinks. 

Our answer to incorporating drinking vinegar into a drink was to develop a seasonal shrub. This changes depending on the season but at the moment blends rhubarb and nettle with apple cider vinegar. This is lengthened with coconut water for extra electrolyte points and fortified with Pisco from Peru.  

Syllabub

Alcohol has always been, for better or for worse, a staple for fighting off illness; when combined with dairy, its boon is said to double. This eventually evolved into more familiar designs such as eggnog. Milk would be brought to the point of boiling and then blended with wine or cider, sometimes with the addition of beaten eggs, citrus and spices. It’s no surprise that this was often served as a dessert.   

Our twist on this dairy based cocktail was to ‘milk wash’ an orange forward gin from Tanqueray, an Italian aromatic wine and seasonal citrus juice. The effect is a much softer ‘sour’ style cocktail that is still packed full of flavour.  

Whistle-belly Vengeance

The badly stored beer tended to go sour, but throwing beer away was never an option for the colonial barkeep. So, instead, they would re-purpose their ale with molasses and crumbles of stale rye bread to cover the sour flavour. 

Whistle belly was a term for an upset stomach. 

Taking the lead on the rye flavour and sour beer of this ‘cocktail’ we work with rye whiskey and a reduced cherry lambic ale to produce a cocktail not far from character in what a manahttan delivers. 

Mimbo or Bombo

Two varieties of the same drink. A healthy dose of New England or, if you had the coin, West Indian rum, brown ‘loaf’ sugar and water would give you a Mimbo. If you were feeling flush, you could go one step further and splash out on some nutmeg shaved over the top to create a Bombo.

The elements we wanted to incorporate into this beverage were the spice, the sweet and the rum. It ended up being more of a rum gimlet, incorporating aromatic spices such as pink peppercorn and then a honey & mango cordial for the sweet contribution.

Grog

Before punch you had grog. Following the establishment of the British empire in Jamaica, rum replaced beer as the Navy’s ration, half a pint in the morning and a half again in the evening. Grog aimed to make the rum ration stretch a little further by adding double the amount of water as spirit, some sugar, fresh lime and sometimes spices such as cinnamon if available. Grogshops were a common occurrence throughout New England, all with their take on the recipe.

British Royal Navy Battleship HMS Renown, daily life on deck, sailors serving out the Grog. At sea, date not given. (Photo by Arkivi/Getty Images)

Inspired by the Junglebird cocktail which incorporates all the parts of a rum punch (i.e. a grog) plus Campari for extra complexity. The version we created uses a combination of Jamaican rums, amaro and tropical fruit juices. 

Calibogus

A refreshing blend of spruce beer (pine), molasses and dark rum. Spruce beer was a method of brewing when hops were not available, commonly seen alongside birch beer. Sometimes simply called a ‘Bogus’, it was popular with colonial-era sailors and usually served warm. 

Rather than pine beer we made our own pine liqueur and blended it with tequila to create a margarita twist. Pink grapefruit juice was then added to continue the refreshing nature of this cocktail. 

Ratafia

The roots of this drink stretch back to medieval France; unaged brandy would be added to pressed wine juice and then combined with cherry or peach kernels, lemon peel and sugar. There were many variants on the recipe including juniper, cocoa nut Seville orange, orris root or coffee beans as substitutes. 

It made sense to turn this into a sidecar variation (Brandy’s answer to the margarita). Peach aperitif wine is paired with Cognac, lemon and orange flower water. 

Bishop

Some of the earliest concoctions of mixed drinks came from the monasteries, where monks would mix honey, spices and wine to create more palatable solutions. One of these was appropriately called a Bishop and would incorporate port, roasted lemon studded with cloves and mixed with spices.      

We serve this cocktail with seasonal twists, simplistic in style but with depth of flavour. In Winter it combines sloe gin, a ruby port reduction and rosehip wine. For Summer we blend a rhubarb gin, white port and elderflower wine. 

To check out our full cocktail menu, check out the link below

Blind Tyger Cocktail Menu