By Kyle Hall / Photos by Sara Norris
Musicians have long relied on alcohol for inspiration. Without booze, the world would be bereft of such hits as Snoop Dogg’s “Gin & Juice,” Willie Nelson’s “Whiskey River” and Oasis’ “Champagne Supernova.”
The folks at Sycamore Den in Normal Heights are turning the tables on this tradition, making boozy concoctions to pair with music, rather than the other way around.
Instead of booking DJs to launch the week’s revelry each Monday night, Sycamore bartenders play a classic rock album in its entirety, beginning at 10 p.m. While the music is playing, they mix and pour an album-inspired cocktail, which is available at a discount until the last song ends.
“The idea was to let the bartenders promote what they listen to,” says shepherd-of-drink Eric Johnson. “It’s fun for the whole crew here and gives them some creative room to come up with new cocktails.”
As any moderate alcoh… um, bar regular will tell you, a bartender having fun is way more likely to pour stiff drinks. So pump up the volume!
Sip & Slide
October drink playlist
Rocktail: Jack Rudy Can’t Fail
Album: The Clash’s London Calling (1979)
Referencing the song “Rudie Can’t Fail,” this cocktail skips the Jamaican “rude boys” the ditty’s actually about (probably because Rihanna ruined them for everybody) and swaps in Jack Rudy — an eccentric WWII vet who enjoyed making bullets to shoot into the dirt wall of his basement, and a small-batch tonic syrup to pour into his gin. Rumor has it, London’s like, always calling to reorder the stuff.
1 1/2 oz. gin
3/4 oz. Jack Rudy Small Batch Tonic
3/4 oz. Becherovka (Czech herbal bitters)
3/4 oz. lemon
1/4 oz. simple syrup
Rocktail: Pinky Lady
Album: Elton John’s Caribou (1974)
This play on the classic Pink Lady cocktail nods to Elton John’s 1974 hit, “Pinky,” which contains the line: “Pinky’s as perfect as the Fourth of July.” Judging by the fact that America’s Independence Day has kinda horrible connotations for Elton John and the other Brits, Mr. John probably isn’t a big fan of Pinky. Fortunately, this cocktail’s made in ‘Merica.
Rocktail: Big Shot
Album: Billy Joel’s 52nd Street (1978)
Sycamore Den’s ode to the Piano Man is a variation on a classic. “If you think of a traditional Old Fashioned, it’s pretty much a big shot with a giant cube of ice,” says Johnson. This version combines cognac and rye for a New Orleans-style take, which is perfect, considering what the song is about: a drunk person acting a fool during a crazy night on the town, or the average person spending a typical night on Bourbon Street.
1 oz. cognac
1 oz. rye
1/2 oz. Benedictine
(French herbal liqueur)
Rocktail: Who’s cRYEing Now?
Album: Journey’s Escape (1981)
Certainly not the first opportunity to play Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” in a bar, October 26 will feature a punny creation called the Who’s cRYEing Now? The only people who will actually be crying about this mash-up will be those who’ve ever worked in karaoke bars.
1 1/2 oz. rye
3/4 oz. lemon
1/2 oz. Orchard Pear liqueur from Austria
1/2 oz. simple syrup