In 1937, famous bandleader Fred Waring (known as “The Man Who Taught America to Sing”) unleashed his version of the electric blender on the world. It wasn’t long before the appliance was being used to make alcoholic drinks, and when the popularity of these chilly tipples exploded in the 1970s, slushy machines were used to deliver drinks by the bucketful at bars. Sadly, around that time, blended drinks developed a reputation as cloying concoctions, made with loads of added sugar and cheap alcohol. But recently, bartenders have been bringing blended drinks back, serving up icy mixes that boast balance and refinement.
An homage to the New Jersey pizza parlors of owner Brandon Pettit’s (also co-owner of Delancey and Essex) youth, the bar at Dino’s Tomato Pie on Capitol Hill has Naugahyde barstools, old photos on the walls and two slushy machines on the counter. Like the bar’s other cocktails, the concoctions issued from these modern machines, including Bluth’s Fortune, are created with care.
Named after the feckless family on the television series Arrested Development, Bluth’s has a memorable purply-pink color and equally memorable layers of tropical fruit flavors, buoyed by traces of spice and herb from bitters and cachaça (the sugar-cane based rum cousin celebrated in Brazil). It echoes Dino’s fun but flavorful aesthetic—swell for fall days when you want a moment of summer—and pairs with a hot slice of pizza (a chewy-crusted Sicilian-style square for me, topped with cheese and a wave of crushed red pepper) like a burst of sunshine pairs with a crisp October day.
With Bluth’s Fortune, Dino’s bar manager Jabriel Donohue (Goldfinch Tavern, Circadia and past president of the Oregon chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild) recalls the ideas of classic blended drinks—fruity, chilly, a scooch sweet—while taking the slushy medium to the next level with interesting and superior ingredients, including Giffard banana liqueur. “Some really great banana-flavored products have been hitting the market and manage to not taste like Smarties,” says Donohue. He combines it with the herbaceous, citrusy and nutty liquor Novo Fogo Chameleon cachaça, the piña colada classic crème de coconut and Angostura bitters.
Slightly tarter than most fruit-based syrups, Speed Craft passion fruit nectar syrup, from Portland’s Bittermens, balances out the sweetness of the banana liqueur and the coconut cream, while adding a lushness that mirrors classic tiki drinks.
The Cocktail: Bluth’s Fortune
The Bar: Dino’s Tomato Pie
The Bartender: Jabriel Donohue
Note: A good blender is essential here; I love my Blendtec, which you can find at Williams Sonoma and other retailers. Check out Speed Craft Syrups to track down the passion fruit nectar syrup. If you use a different passion fruit syrup, Donohue suggests adding to it a bit of quality lime cordial (buy it or find a recipe for one).
• 6–8 ounces ice cubes
• 2 ounces Novo Fogo Chameleon cachaça
• 1 ounce Speed Craft passion fruit nectar syrup
• 1/2 ounce Giffard banana liqueur
• 1/2 ounce crème de coconut
• 3 dashes Angostura bitters, Lime slice, for garnish, Cherry, for garnish
Add the ice cubes to a blender, and then add all the other ingredients. Blend well, until there are no ice chunks left. Pour into a tall highball glass and garnish with a lime slice and cherry speared with a cocktail umbrella.