Christy Pope & Chad Solomon have been an integral part of the New York cocktail scene for the past decade, having worked behind the bars of Milk & Honey, Pegu Club, Little Branch, and Flatiron Lounge, and have since consulted on beverage programs for hotels, restaurants and bars around the world. In 2006, emerging from their collective work at Milk & Honey, Christy & Chad founded Cuffs & Buttons™, specializing in spirits & cocktail catering & consulting.
We sat down with Christy and Chad to talk about music, cocktails and the upcoming Manhattan Cocktail Classic, New York City’s annual five-day celebration of cocktails and culture taking place May 13 – 17.
1. Which events are you attending / speaking at / are you excited about?
CHAD: We are part of a very cool event at The Box… “Campari Presents a Spirited Fete for the Senses Inspired by Padma Lakshmi” where we will be making a cocktail we created for the event, called the Marco Polo Negroni. Basically, a delicious variation on a classic Negroni with the addition of the flavors of the East… pippali long pepper, mace, coriander, cardamom, curry leaf… we are incorporating these flavors via tinctures and essences.
CHRISTY: We are also excited to be a part of the opening night Gala at the New York Public Library. We’ll be bartending at the Laird & Company bar, where we will be serving our Byzantine Julep that features Laird’s Bonded Applejack.
2. What new spirits are you excited to taste for the first time at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic?
More than new spirits, it is other bartender’s cocktails that we are excited to try for the first time. There are a lot of bartenders from all over that will be attending the Classic, so it will be great to see what everyone is doing, and hopefully be inspired.
3. Three “can’t miss” NYC cocktail bars for MCC attendees:
If you haven’t been yet, you have to go straight the source of the modern craft cocktail revival in America…
Milk & Honey/ Little Branch – Sasha Petraske opened Milk & Honey in 2000. The door policy/reservations may make it difficult to get a reservation during the craze of MCC, so we recommend it’s sister bar, Little Branch for the same cocktail experience without the need for a reservation, and the bonus of live music.
Pegu Club – Audrey Saunders’ bar, which has been called the “Harvard of mixology” by the New York Times, enough said.
It is important to note that without these two establishments we wouldn’t have the newer generation of cocktail bars like… Death & Company, PDT, Dutch Kills, not to mention our company, Cuffs & Buttons, and many more including, Mayahuel, which is our third “can’t miss” bar for MCC.
4. Recommended late night grub after a day of imbibing at the MCC:
CHRISTY: Blue Ribbon Brasserie is a late night must!
CHAD: Also, Fatty Cue in Williamsburg.
5. Most surprising thing I would learn at your MCC seminar:
That we aren’t presenting one ; )
6. Top 5 songs spinning on your iPod (or record player!) right now:
“I Can get off on You” by Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson
“Two Headed Coin” by the Obits
“All My Friends” by LCD Soundsystem (John Cale Version)
“Transmission” by Joy Division
“Sea Within a Sea” by The Horrors
I’m more of an album guy, so…
1. Obits- Moody, Standard and Poor
2. Rolling Stones- Exile on Main Street
3. Spacemen 3- The Perfect Prescription
4.The Night Marchers- Thar She Blows
5. Graham Parsons- Sacred Hearts & Fallen Angels
7. Your most “rock-star” maneuver behind the bar:
CHRISTY: Jumping high kicks to “Panama” a la David Lee Roth.
CHAD: Putting out one solid drink after another.
8. The cocktail or spirit that best describes your personality:
Rum, Gin, Rye, Bourbon, Tequila, and Mezcal are all applicable to us…but we feel a certain affinity toward:
Night Train Express or Thunderbird - ”What’s the word? Thunderbird / How’s it sold? Good and cold / What’s the jive? Bird’s alive / What’s the price? Thirty twice.”
9. Best music to close up to after last call:
CHRISTY: In general I am a shuffle girl, I am big into making mixes on my ipod…
CHAD: To many options… depends on the mood of the night.
10. Bizarre, unexpected, surprisingly delicious cocktail recipe:
“Canned Heat”- Sterno filtered through white bread or a sock
11. Best concert you have seen in the last 5 years:
CHRISTY: My Bloody Valentine @ Roseland Ballroom in 2008.
CHAD: LCD Soundsystem @ Madison Square Garden 2011 (Final Show!)
12. Favorite drinking song(s):
Tom Waits: “The Piano has been drinking (not me)”
Angelo Badalamenti (Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me Soundtrack): “The Pink Room”
Reverend Horton Heat: “Gin & Tonic Blues”
Black Flag: “Six Pack”
Loretta Lynn & Jack White: “Portland Oregon”
13. Imagine you are in a band: what are you called and what do you sound like?
Hot to Fuck…. Primal, bluesy scuzz rock, with a faint aroma of new wave electronica.
14. The album you blast when getting ready for a night out on the town:
CHRISTY: Generally I will make a quick mix on the fly, but worthy albums are: “Teaches of Peaches” Peaches, “Echoes” The Rapture, “Appetite for Destruction” Guns & Roses, anything from the Rolling Stones-up through Exile on Main Street. … too many, really.
CHAD: Depends on how cranked up I’m gonna get…usually something loud and up-tempo.
15. Choose a band or song and create a signature “Rocktail” for our readers! Include drink name, recipe, preparation and glassware.
1 oz Red Breast Irish whiskey
¾ oz Campari
¼ oz Blume Marillen Apricot Eau de Vie
1/8 tsp Marteau Absinthe
¾ oz Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
¼ oz Simple Syrup
1 Egg White
Preparation: Dry Shake/Shake/Strain/Up
Garnish: SMALL Lemon Peel zested over top and drink and discarded.
The My Bloody Valentine cocktail is a tribute to the band and their sound, which is both beautiful and violent. Kevin Shields once described the sound as “fluff on a needle.” The creamy pot still Irish whiskey reflects the band’s origin of Dublin, Ireland. The combination of Campari, Absinthe, and Apricot is cacophony of flavor, like their sound against the juxtaposition of a lush egg white.
CHAD’S ROCKTAIL: Flesh Off The Bone
2 oz George Dickel No. 12 fat washed with smoked suet
½ oz *Speedball Tincture
1 tsp Demerara Syrup (2:1)
½ tsp HP Brown Sauce
Stir/Strain/On the Rock
Glass: Old Fashioned Glass
Garnish: Steel Straw/Spoon- Updated Bottle Label
* Equal parts laudanum (tincture of opium), and tincture of coca leaves.
“Never got a flash out of cocktails, when I got some flesh off the bone”
-Keith Richards from the song “Happy”
The Rolling Stones are one of my favorite bands. I had the opportunity to bartend for the band and their inner circle back in 2003, which left quite an impression on me. I actually created this drink for a seminar that Christy and I presented at Tales of the Cocktail in 2009, inspired by Keith. Keith used to be a Jack Daniels man, but the product has changed since the 70’s, so I went with Dickel for the drink and we redid the Jack bottle label as part of the seminar. The speedball tincture is self explanatory- try it if you can get your hands on the raw materials. The drink is a real boomer.