Drink of the Week: Puttin' on the Bix
Veering off Montgomery onto Gold Street, a little, almost nondescript alley, feels like slipping into a hidden passageway. Walking along it I get the thrill of being in on a secret, what I imagine was half the fun of Prohibition-era speakeasies. The tidy little street doesn't stand out for any particular reason, except for the neon sign that marks the entrance to Bix. It may not be a secret, but the dramatic shift from street to 1930's jazz joint sure feels like one.
Lou Bustamante The Sazerac at Bix
Bix drips with elegance, the two-story dining room, plush and dark; with lively jazz music energizing the room with so much vigor you half expect the chairs to start doing a jig. The dramatically backlit bar draws me in to pull up a stool at the long and polished mahogany slab crowned with an big metal punch bowl filled with crushed ice, that serves to chill the glassware.
Lou Bustamante The Sidecar
There are a few drinks of their own invention on the list, but the focus of the menu is classics like the Sidecar ($13, Germain-Robin Brandy, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao, lemon, sugar rim), and the Sazerac ($11, Templeton Rye, Herbsaint, Peychaud's Bitters, Angostura Bitters) feels the most appropriate in the space.
The feel of the place is prohibition era, and it makes sense to enjoy the Sazerac made with spirit with a bootlegging history, Templeton Rye. The "brand name" came from the city, Templeton (Carroll County, Iowa) that was renown for the whiskey the farmers there produced during Prohibition and was widely distributed and enjoyed at Chicago's finest speakeasies. The current iteration claims to use the same recipe made back then, making it the experience even more era-correct.
While some bars offer escape from the everyday with a comfortable place to sit and a good drink, Bix escape includes both space and time. The entrance to the 1930's only requires a quick turn onto Gold Street.
2 oz. Templeton Rye Whiskey
Dash of Herbsaint Liqueur
2 Dashes of Peychaud's Bitters
Dash of Angostura Bitters
1 Sugar cube
Lemon peel twist garnish
Place sugar cube into a mixing glass. Add 2 dashes Peychaud bitters and 1 dash Angostura bitters to soak sugar. Rinse a well chilled martini glass with the Herbsaint, and set aside. Add Templeton Rye Whiskey to bitters soaked sugar, add ice, then shake (yes, hold on to your suspenders, and shake) and strain into prepared glass. Garnish with the twist and serve.
Bix Restaurant, 56 Gold (at Montgomery), 433-6300