There is a class of cocktails whose sole purpose is to deliver as much alcohol as possible. These mixtures are either loaded with enough sugar to mask the burning sensation or intensely flavored enough to qualify as a dare. Drinks like the long island iced tea, the slow comfortable screw, and the mind eraser are the one-night-stands of the cocktail world -- any lengthy relationship with them is guaranteed to end badly. At Tradition, beverage director Ian Scalzo takes these drinks to finishing school and gives them a pedigree fit for the Bourbon & Branch crew's latest bar.
On the Dive Bar portion of the menu, Scalzo remixes the infamous combination of coconut rum, Jägermeister, and pineapple juice into a totally new version of the Surfer on Acid ($9, Matusalem Platino Rum, Ron Zacapa Rum, Averna, pineapple gum syrup, lemon, coconut marmalade). His take on the classic concoction has all the tropical qualities of the original, but reinvigorates it with a tiki twist that Scalzo says simply evolved as he was breaking down the original's flavor profiles.
The combination of rum, pineapple, and coconut summon that warm sandy beach feeling of vacations past. The Averna Italian bitter liqueur gives it an earthier herbal kick, but in a well-mannered way and not dominating the rest of the drink. Scalzo says that people love his new version of the cocktail. "It's cool to see them have a new experience on a drink they think they've had before," he explained.
There is plenty to love on the rest of the themed menus (Irish pub, English pub, Scottish pub, grand hotel, speakeasy, the Big Easy, tiki, along with American dive bar), but the Surfer on Acid is remarkable in a double-take way--like running into an old flame that went from hot mess to success.
Surfer on Acid
1 oz. White Rum
1/2 oz. Ron Zacapa
1/2 oz. Averna
3/4 oz. Lemon
1/2 oz. Pineapple Gomme
1 heaping barspoon coconut marmalade
Shake all ingredients together with ice, strain into a glass with ice.
Tradition Bar, 441 Jones (at O'Farrell), 474-2284