When cocktail lovers talk about “classic” cocktails, they usually mean drinks made before 1950: The Perfect Martini, the Singapore Sling, the Daiquiri. Few would make the case that a Kamikaze or Harvey Wallbanger belongs in such exalted company.
Unless, of course, they work at the Majestic.
On its latest seasonal cocktail list, the bartending team at the Old Town restaurant celebrates cocktails that were popular in the 1980s but have gotten a bad rap since, including wine coolers and Electric Lemonade. Of course, says bartender Trevor Clarke, some of those drinks are forgotten because they “just aren’t that good,” so the team worked to put their own delicious spin on each one.
Take the Eclectic Lemonade, formerly known as Electric Lemonade. Instead of the cloying vodka/Blue Curacao/sour mix combo that you may remember from college, this one has been punched up with bourbon and a house-made sour blend that tastes like fresh-squeezed citrus, and finishes with a hint of Caribbean allspice from pimento dram. Except for the luminous color, you might not know they’re the same drink.
Majestic’s Oaxacan Sunrise bears little resemblance to its cousin, the Tequila Sunrise, thanks to the grassy, smoky flavor of small-batch mezcal that replaces the standard white tequila. Grapefruit bitters impart a sharp sting at the end of each sip; the only way you’ll know there’s sweet grenadine in this potent drink is from the trademark red haze at the bottom of the glass.
My favorite, though, was the Danny Wallbanger, which derives its new name from a Majestic regular. The vibrant shade of orange is your first clue how much fun is in the glass: This recipe adds the smooth vanilla taste of Licor 43 and the orange of Grand Marnier to a traditional Harvey Wallbanger to come up with something closer to an Orange Julius than the usual orange-juice-and-Galliano concoction.
(Unavailable on my visit, but something I look forward to trying: the Napa Valley Cooler, a vermentino-based wine cooler that’s being bottled in small quantities at Majestic’s sister restaurant/market, Society Fair.)
This is fun menu to explore, and with most cocktails at $10 or $11, it won’t sting your wallet too badly. Be warned, though: These cocktails are boozy. But hey, the '80s were a different time.