THE RAYMOND 1886
SUMMER COCKTAILS ARE LOONEY TUNES!
I always welcome the start of a new season not by the blooming of flowers or change in weather but by the new complex cocktails that come out of the mad scientist kids’ minds at The Raymond 1886. Summer in particular always features a slew of forward thinking and daring array of libations and this new menu, and ode to ‘cartoons and cocktails’, is no exception.
“Cocktails and Cartoons brings us back to a simpler time,” the bar brain trust explains, “when we would eat cereal in front of Saturday morning cartoons, and watch cartoon re-reruns on Sunday.”
I can imagine these guys spiking their morning cereal when no one was looking.
“We are always looking for a theme that the 1886 team can not only get creative and translate into cocktail form, but that our guests can have fun and enjoy,” says Head Barman Peter Lloyd-Jones.
I always look forward to what wacky and wonderful new cocktails will emerge from the leading bar program. Sure, they’re not all winners, I personally am not a fan of ‘green drinks’, i.e. healthy, smoothie-like drinks with kale or spinach or wheatgrass (or all three combined). While I grew up loving Popeye the Sailor, I’m not a fan of Popeye’s Punch. Sure, it’s good for you—a little vodka added won’t hurt you—but I don’t want that when I go out for drinks.
While I’ve championed The Raymond 1886 program and its bartenders, most notably former up-and-coming star Jesus Gomez, now a star bartender in his own right, as well as the boss man Peter Lloyd Jones and ex-alum Brady Weise and Gillian Georges, this summer’s MVP is Luis Nava.
Who is Luis Nava you may ask? He’s a veteran of The Raymond for 16 years. He works in the kitchen and creates cocktails. He’s a shy guy who stands firm at attention and is polite as hell. Looking back at past menus, I realized I have liked his drinks. His previous winter cocktails the Helen of Troy was a wonderful mix of Pisco Portón, Velvet Falernum, mixed berry shrub, lemon juice, and black sugar garnish resulting in a pleasing drink that was sweet yet subtle. And his Shag Party—a tea-ki cocktail made with fresh lemon juice, Jamaican, Trinidadian and spiced rum with black tea syrup with pineapple, cinnamon, and anise notes, served over crushed ice with fresh grated nutmeg—was awesome! It played like a tiki drink and was so well balanced.
But his two drinks on the Cartoons & Cocktails menu made me ask, no demand, who is Luis Nava?
His Woody Woodpecker cocktail was booze forward but balanced and is hands down my new cocktail menu favorite drink. A mix of Vida Mezcal, Angostura & Peychaud's Bitters, Cedar Syrup, and a double citrus peel is a winning take on an agave-based Old Fashioned.
Proving that lightning can strike more than once, Luis’ The Quagmire is sweet, boozy and balanced and works to perfection. Made with Larceny Bourbon, homemade fig syrup, tiki bitters and figs used for syrup re-used for garnish, the bar likes to call this Old Fashioned style “figgitty”.