Walk the streets of 21st century Lower East Side Manhattan and it’s easy to forget New York City’s grittier past: A time of nascent punk and hip hop, during which heralded Mayor Ed Koch won his first term in office, a young Robert DeNiro walked into a dark, seedy bar in the opening scene of “Mean Streets,” and crime was rampant. Nineteen-seventies’ New York is a stark contrast to the sanitized streets of today’s Big Apple, but it’s vivid in the memories of cocktail historian Greg Boehm and award-winning bartender Giuseppe Gonzalez, who seek to evoke this bygone era in their new restaurant and bar, Golden Cadillac Food & Drink, set to open on Wednesday, November 6, at 13 First Avenue at the corner of First Street.
Cocktail-inspired nostalgia typically has enthusiasts reaching back to the pre- and post-Prohibition eras filled with bathtub gin and romanticized speakeasies. But as Boehm (best known as owner of Cocktail Kingdom) and Gonzalez (whose resume includes celebrated cocktail venues Clover Club and PKNY) are about to remind everyone: the 1970s was a time rich with “classic cocktails” of another ilk. Named for the Galliano-based cocktail that was popular at the time, Golden Cadillac will tip its hat to such drinks as the Long Island Iced Tea, Buttery Nipple and Strawberry Daiquiri – executed with the quality ingredients, masterful techniques and cutting-edge tools that are de rigueur for today’s bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts. To accompany the drinks, chef Miguel Trinidad will serve a menu of classic New York dishes inspired by vintage editions of Gourmet Magazine.
The cocktail menu, which Gonzalez describes as “Charles Baker style” for its drinks inspired by observation and personal experience, will include:
- Dirty Martini – vodka or gin, dry vermouth, olive brine
- English LIT – gin, rum, tequila, Early Grey tonic, cinnamon
- Miami Vice – Frozen Piña Colada with a float of Strawberry Daiquiri
- Buttery Nipple – whisky, lemon, brown sugar, milk
- Sour Apple Bellini – Granny Smith apple juice, champagne
- Banana Nuclear Snaquiri – rum, lime, Jagermeister, Green Chartreuse
- Hot Grasshopper – crème de menthe, crème de cacao, mint, heavy cream
Chef Trinidad, known for igniting the Filipino food trend with restaurants Jeepney and Maharlika, will offer a menu of dishes that reflect New York’s culinary past, such as:
- Hunter’s Stew (for four) – with loaf bread and butter
- Shrimp Louie – iceberg lettuce, tomato wedges, Treasure Island dressing
- Monte Cristo – turkey, ham and Swiss sandwich, deep-fried
- Tomato Soup – served with grilled cheese bites
- Italian Turnovers – tomato a la vodka, Ducks Eatery sausage, Rizzoli cheese
- Knish Fondue – potato dumpling creamy cheese sauce
Designed by Crow Hill Design’s Jeannette Kaczorowski in collaboration with Field Lines Architecture, Golden Cadillac’s décor will evoke the warmth and texture of a mid-to-late 1970s dive bar, complete with wood paneling, reflective surfaces, patterned wallpaper and ambient backlighting. “It was a time best depicted as ‘faded glory’ or ‘sad glamour’,” says Gonzalez, who will be joined by James Tune, formerly of Pegu Club, as Golden Cadillac’s General Manager.