Drink This Now: Revive ’85 and the Blackbird at Ça Va

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Seasonal changes mean menu changes, and there’s a lot of that going around at local bars right now. Today, Ça Va launches a new seasonal cocktail menu that features some brow-raising combinations. I stopped in for a preview of the Westport champagne bar’s fall offerings. 

Caitlin Corcoran, Ça Va’s general manager and the force behind the cocktail list, suggests the Blackbird. It’s a complicated-sounding beverage with half a dozen ingredients: Amaro Averna (an Italian amaro liqueur), fernet, Cardamaro (a wine-based Italian amaro), ginger liqueur, orgeat (an almond syrup) and Moscato, served up in a coupe glass rimmed with maple syrup, ground almonds, coffee and brown sugar. 

I’m not sure what to expect when Corcoran lists all of that. Rather than using a base spirit, she’s combining liqueurs that are typically not the main attraction in a drink. All ingredients save the Moscato are combined in a mixer, shaken and strained into the coupe. The Moscato is the topper — an interesting choice. I ask Corcoran why she opted for the sweet, still white wine rather than something sparkling. 

“Basically, every cocktail on our program should have bubbles of some kind, and usually we try Prosecco first ,because we have it on tap,” she tells me. “But the Moscato just added a nice body to it. It’s one of those things where I think people have a really bad impression of what Moscato is — they think it’s too sweet, or cheap — but here, that sweetness balances all the other bitter notes in the cocktail.” 

Corcoran is right. The Blackbird is warming, with a cola-like profile: There’s plenty bitterness, thanks to the fernet and the amaros; the ginger liqueur highlights the herbs; the orgeat adds a toasty, nutty flavor. And — OMG, you guys — the candied rim almost makes it feel like I’m taking sips of this cocktail from an almond brittle glass. The Blackbird works as an aperitif or digestif — a dessert-like cocktail you can have before dinner without feeling bad. 

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Next up is a drink called Revive ’85, containing mezcal — which I love — and blue Curaçao, which I am not so sure about. My memories of this cerulean-colored citrus liqueur are tainted with the regret of poor decisions in college; moreover, such a spirit seems out of place in Ça Va’s sophisticated bar. But Corcoran has a motive. 

“One thing I thought about was, hopefully, the Royals can make it to the playoffs, and also Sporting KC just won the Open Cup and they’re still contenders for MLS,” Corcoran says, “so we thought a blue cocktail would be really fun to do.”

The Revive ’85 is a riff on a classic gin cocktail called the Corpse Reviver No. 2. Corcoran uses Del Maguey Vida Mezcal instead of gin, blue Curaçao instead of triple sec, Dolin Blanc vermouth instead of Lillet, St. George Absinthe and lime juice. These ingredients are combined, shaken and strained into a champagne flute, then topped with Prosecco and garnished with a long curl of an orange peel. It looks beach-y.

I prepare myself for something sugary, but the Revive ’85 is crisp and light. There’s a gentle smokiness from the mezcal and just a hint of anise from the absinthe (Corcoran used a light hand, just four drops). It’s just sweet enough to go down easy. 

Ça Va’s fall cocktail and food menus launch today. For hours and location, go here

See also

Drink This Now: the Cobbler’s Daughter and Spanish Harlem at República
Drink This Now: The Fire & Ice at Char Bar 
Drink This Now: Cafe Port Fonda at Port Fonda

Categories: Music