In the midst of a surge in throwback cocktails and other nostalgic drinking trends, Horsefeather owners Ian Scalzo and Justin Lew are featuring a menu highlighting drinks that harken back to another era.
The Drink to Get: Sun Country
This tall and icy drink will take many back to leisurely days cruising the mall, taking its inspiration from the classic suburban staple, the Orange Julius.
Scalzo created the drink by using an unusual process with an ingredient that doesn't always cross paths with cocktails: wine. He reduces chardonnay with sugar, orange juice, and vanilla to create a syrup and then shakes the sweetener up with mezcal, lemon, Mandarin Napoleon (a French orange liqueur), and egg white (which makes the drink frothy and gives it body). The easy-drinking cocktail is poured over a chilled wide-mouthed collins glass with ice, well suited for the bar's sunny atrium.
Behind the Barman
Scalzo, who heads up the bar program, has been a major player in the Bay Area bar scene for years; the average bar fly has likely tasted a cocktail on which Scalzo has laid a hand. With various bar leadership positions at local cocktail goliath Future Bars from 2010 to 2014, Scalzo defined the drinks at some of San Francisco's most prominent and high-volume watering holes, garnering national attention for bringing classic cocktails to the forefront and elevating original recipes.
Now, with a bar of his own, Scalzo is trying to create a space for himself by focusing on syrups—specifically by incorporating wine reductions as sweeteners and to pump up the flavor. To do this, Scalzo cooks down wine with sugar and sometimes fruit to create intense flavors. He uses his enthusiasm for wine to match the flavor profile of the grape to the cocktail he is trying to create.
Behind the Menu
The result is a menu of cocktails that are rich, but easy to drink without being overly alcoholic. His menu is unusually organized, too: While bars like to list the main spirit in the cocktail first, Scalzo lists the most prominent flavor component, be it lime, mezcal or an amaro. And as a tongue-in-cheek nod to his foray into wine syrups, he names the cocktails after wine coolers from the 80s and 90s, giving what could be perceived as an overly complex preparation for a neighborhood bar a kitschy flair.