Sasha Petraske created the Fallback Cocktail, not for his famous New York bar, Milk and Honey, but for the now appropriately shuttered John Dory Oyster Bar, a place whose owners could have learned a few things from their consultant. Is it any good? Totally, but what does one do with things created by good people for bad people who profit from that creation?
Petraske’s legacy is one of elegance, graciousness, modesty and respect. Although we never had the pleasure of an introduction before his untimely demise, we have crossed paths with enough people who knew him in one way or another to have, what we feel, is an informed opinion of a man we wished we knew. We are as enamored with Petraske’s house rules as we are with his cocktails, some of which we’ve already shared. Those rules, however, stand as an inspiration for generally respectable social behavior which is even more important in an environment where alcohol can sometimes lead one down a careless path, and a quick shorthand reminder that, while you may be a guest in an establishment or abode, and will be treated like one, you are also expected to act like one.
Unfortunately, not all bar owners or restaurateurs embrace civility, or eschew the exercise of power, instead embracing the usual misguided and patriarchal notion that entitlement and privilege void social norms, but only as they apply to them. It’s about time we give no fucks for the bosses who still haven’t gotten the message to keep your hands to yourself, and your dick in your pants, because you got the power and you got the money and the people who make you rich deserve better than grab ass in the kitchen, and as story after story parades before us announcing the latest disgrace and financial ruin of one douche bag after another, let’s also ask why people still frequent establishments of known power mongers and bullies who haven’t yet been driven from positions of hierarchical and illegitimate authority.
In our case, we will select our ingredients, and spend our money only in support of those who uphold the values of tolerance, equality, and peace, which, in a capitalist society, is a tall order indeed. How, then, do you know who are the bullies and who are the comrades? It starts local. Get to know the people who make the spirits and mixers you choose. Visit tasting rooms, go to bars and restaurants that embrace diversity, talk to people and find out that most of those you meet are in the businesses they’re in out of passion for their craft, then support them. Most of the time these people are leaving money on the table in the interest of fairness, and are doing their very best to compete with the corporations who have the means to undercut them at the register, but is that few extra bucks too much to ask? And when you find a local producer who’s all alpha male dude bro entitled white bully, buy what you need from someone else. The best way to deal with antiquated and exploitative power structures is with your wallet, and the way to start voting with your wallet is to drink local.
We at The Portland Pour choose to support those who not only create magnificent and beautiful things, but who also embody a positive social attitude that embraces all of humanity with equality, tolerance, and humility. For us, that’s something we’ll toast with a Petraske cocktail, for not only did he leave a body of work which will undoubtedly last a long time in one way or another, but actually codified what it means to enjoy a drink in peace. In this case, that drink is a Fallback Cocktail, which, in our own way, isn’t quite what Petraske had in mind when he created it.
The Fallback Cocktail is an example of how subtlety can change, but not diminish, a meticulously created classic. As we start, one by one, replacing Petraske’s specified ingredients with our own local selections we wind up with a drink that’s very unique because of the local flavor. Consisting of rye, apple brandy, amaro and vermouth, we can replace each with a local variant for a drink we quite like. James Oliver Rye is our usual choice, because it just is, and Clear Creek Apple Brandy fits the bill quite nicely. Clear Creek Apple Brandy is much more crisp than Laird’s, the standard national brand, and that makes a nice difference in the cocktail. It sort of lightens it up just a bit, which gives a bit more of a nod to the Ransom Sweet Vermouth, and Townshend’s Amaro we’ve chosen. Ransom Sweet Vermouth is a perfect substitute for Carpano Antica, which, if we’re honest, isn’t a favorite. We quite prefer Ransom to Carpano, so we’ve already dialed this drink a little closer to our tastes, but the amaro is a challenge. Petraske specifies Amaro Nonino, but, for local options, Townshend’s is about as near as you’ll find. Is it perfect? Nope, but it’s a product of equal quality which, while changing the character of the bitter aspect of the Fallback Cocktail, doesn’t fail in the glass. We’re quite happy with the result, and hope Petraske wouldn’t mind us taking liberties with his creation.
1 oz James Oliver Rye
1 oz Clear Creek Apple Brandy
1/2 oz Ransom Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Tonshend’s Kashmiri Amaro
2 dashes Scrappy’s Orleans Bitters
Build in a rocks glass with one large piece of ice. Garnish with an orange twist.
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