Magic and mixology have little in common besides a deft hand and great showmanship, but Superfly, the event team behind Outside Lands and Bonnaroo, plans to show New York and Boston how the two complement each other with their quirkily-themed mixology tour, called Cocktail Magic.
For years, Superfly has been collaborating with food and drinks vendors, bringing great food to its festivals. But this event, a departure from its music-centered festivals, puts the focus on drinks, food and entertainment, and makes music the sidebar. The tour is inspired partly by an area at Outside Lands called GastroMagic, which surrounds a performance stage with magicians and chefs.
The mixologists presenting their tricks of the trade are an all-star lineup, from bars Attaboy, Dead Rabbit, Death & Co, Dutch Kills, End of the Century Bar, Mother of Pearl, Please Don’t Tell, Pouring Ribbons, Broken Shaker Chicago, Williams & Graham Denver, Leyenda and Nitecap.
With touring mixologists, top magicians like Jon Armstrong, known for his acts at the Magic Castle in Los Angeles, a traveling pizza oven from Roberta’s, DJ sets from Neon Indian and Baio, and beautiful backdrops, the event promises to be an immersive experience.
D.C. and Chicago are also in the cards for future dates, according to Superfly.
Paste chatted with Julie Reiner, Cocktail Magic co-curator and owner of cocktail bars Clover Club and Leyenda, about the tour, which hits New York on March 19, and Boston on March 26.
Paste: How did you get involved with Superfly and Cocktail Magic? What did you think of the concept when you first heard of it?
Julie Reiner: Superfly is a firm of cocktail enthusiasts so they’re patrons of my Manhattan and Brooklyn bars. We’ve also collaborated together on a few events in the past. If they have an idea, I am always open to listening. They have big, bold imaginative ideas and the talent to make them happen.
Paste: Are you personally a magic fan? Who do you like?
JR: I can’t say I follow magicians but I have to say I am most excited about this component of the event. It’s so original!
Paste: What do you think the role of entertainers and music are in enjoying a fine drink? Is that something you incorporate into your bars, and how?
JR: Music and cocktails go hand in hand! In my bars, we are very selective of the music that we play as it really sets the tone for the evening. At Clover Club, we have live music on Wednesday nights with Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra. They have been with us for seven years, and their vibe really fits the look and feel of the bar. On New Year’s Eve, we will often feature live music to add something special for the night. At Leyenda on New Year’s Eve, we had an all female mariachi band, they were so great, and really made the night special.
Paste: What will Clover Club be presenting, thematically and cocktail-wise? Will the cocktails be a play on magic?
JR: From the bar perspective, the magic is in how talented the mixologists are and how delicious the cocktails will be! There is a section of the menu where cocktails play on music in that they’re named after songs.
Clover Club will be serving two drinks in Boston. I’ll share one of them. Boston will feature the Improved Whiskey Cocktail with Rye Whiskey, Maraschino Liqueur, Absinthe and Angostura Bitters. Clover Club will not be in New York; instead, New York’s selection will be Leyenda. Leyenda is serving two drinks as well. I’ll share one of those too. It’s the Tia Mia, which bridges the gap between tiki and Latin libations. It’s a mezcal Mai Tai that has traveled the globe, being featured on menus from Maui to New York City. Every bartender hopes to create a cocktail that other bars want to feature. Ivy Mix at Leyenda hit the jackpot with this one. Its ingredients include Appleton Reserve Rum, El Silencio Mezcal, toasted almond orgeat, Pierre Ferrand orange curacao and lime juice.
Paste: How will the food pair with your cocktails?
JR: Roberta’s is serving various pizzas by the slice, which pair beautifully with the cocktails.
Paste: What role have you played in event planning, and what role will you play day-of in production? What do you need in a venue to successfully execute such a large cocktail event?
JR: I collaborated with Superfly and Andy Seymour to put together the lineup of bars for Boston and New York. It’s a very tight knit industry and it was a blast to call the people I admire and am friends with in the community to make this event happen.
There is a lot of interplay between Boston and New York cocktail leaders given the cities’ proximity to one another. These locations were a great starting point for the tour.
The night of, I’ll be making sure everyone is having a great time and shaking up cocktails with bartenders from Clover Club and Leyenda.
Superfly and Andy Seymour are planning the logistics of the event — you need a lot of logistical geniuses to pull off a large cocktail event and we have many between Andy and the folks at Superfly.
Superfly is also renowned for their music expertise and their decor — they never underestimate the importance of a great atmosphere at any event they do. Lighting, custom-designed installations … there are a lot of components to Cocktail Magic that will create a very memorable evening.
Paste: Are there different Clover Club selections for each city, and if so, how did you select the different menus? Do they riff on the particular city?
JR: The Cocktail Magic menu is divided into Classic Cocktails and Cocktails Inspired by Music so the two categories riff on both a respect for cocktails and the event’s entertainment and DJ component.
Paste: Why not New York? That’s the only city where there won’t be Clover Club drinks?
JR: Leyenda is still somewhat new to New Yorkers so we thought it would be fun to showcase it at Cocktail Magic New York.
Paste: What do you think about the fact that you can probably get the same Broken Shaker cocktail in Miami and Chicago?
JR: I think there’s so much to be said to enjoying a cocktail in the unique environment that is Cocktail Magic. I can promise it is not a replicable experience and quite different than imbibing at a bar!
I’m sure there are a handful of New Yorkers and Bostonians who have enjoyed Broken Shaker in Miami or Chicago, but I think there are many who will be new to this bar and how phenomenal it is. It’s exciting to introduce it to new faces.
Paste: You’ve said that your customary drink is a negroni. What bars besides your own makes your favorite versions?
JR: What I love about this drink is that I can order in at just about any bar. It’s a drink that is easy to make, and very forgiving when you add more or less of any of its ingredients. I have had some pretty stellar negronis at Nitecap with Natasha David and at Pouring Ribbons.
Paste: Both of whom will be at the event! What drink are you most looking forward to trying at the event??
It’s hard to choose one but I was thrilled to see that The Dead Rabbit would be serving the Spell Spoke! I had it recently at the Rabbit, and was blown away. Leave it to Jillian Vose…she is a true talent behind the bar.
Dead Rabbit has generously shared its recipe for the Spell Spoke with Paste.
2 kaffir lime leaves
2 dashes Boston Bitters
0.75 oz lime juice
0.75 oz cane syrup
0.25 oz ginger syrup
2 oz Hibiscus-infused Jameson Black Barrel
Glassware: Bar glass/ cracked ice.
Origin/History: Jillian Vose, The Dead Rabbit, Fall 2014
You can purchase tickets to Cocktail Magic online, and follow them on Facebook for more drink updates.
Main photo by Franz Conde CC-BY
Dakota Kim is a food editor, gardener, mushroom hunter and hot sauce fanatic. She likes drinking vermouth with the old Italian men who play bocce on the streets of her first Brooklyn neighborhood. Tweet her @dakotakim1.