Booth One is a restaurant that sits in one of the most iconic locations in hospitality history; a room that opened in October 1938 as The Pump Room by Ernie Byfield. As Booth One celebrates its first anniversary in the Ambassador Chicago, the team wanted to give guests a retrospective look at Booth One and The Pump Room in its first 50 years through cocktails.
Each of the next five decades marks a distinct period of change in American cocktail culture. Nate Redner, Beverage Director of Booth One, recently launched a new imbibing experience for guests to sip on drinks that will transport them to a moment in this iconic space’s history.
Now grab a glass and let’s take it back 80 years.
The 1930s: Flips, Fizzes and Sours
The 1930s was the era of acid-driven cocktails; bartenders shaking furiously to create that frothy foam from lighter soda-based fizzes to hearty whole egg flips.
Nate’s drink of choice: Cynar Flip with cynar, rye, cream and egg
The Cynar Flip incorporates a split base of rye whiskey and a high and low proof Cynar, whole egg, and a touch of cream to offer a season-appropriate and hearty drink that’s full of warm baking spices and a touch of sweet and bitter for ideal balance.
The 1940s: Tiki Takes Hold
Entering the 1940s, the West Coast was in full throttle tiki mode with Don the Beachcomber’s namesake bar making waves and quickly spreading across the country.
Nate’s drink of choice: Rings of Saturn with naval strength gin, passion fruit, orgeat, falernum, coconut
The Arizona-born Saturn gets a slight makeover at Booth One with the Rings of Saturn featuring an overproof gin sourced from the West Coast, complemented by fresh passion fruit, orgeat, coconut milk and falernum. This cocktail is aromatic and complex with a touch tartness from the passion fruit.
The 1950s: Brown and Boozy
The 1950s is the height of the Chicago mob scene with Tony “Big Tuna” Accardo as one of the most renowned bosses with this city being the heart of the prohibition era, to which this whole movement started, where brown and boozy drinks ruled the land.
Nate’s drink of choice: Tony Accardo with bourbon and créme de noyaux
Fittingly inspired by the classic Godfather cocktail, the Tony Accardo is simply bourbon and creme de noyaux (almond liqueur) — and concrete shoes, of course. This is a great alternative for the Old Fashioned or Manhattan drinker. Nate will also stir you a top tier version we call the Consigliere, which is made with Aberlour 12 year Single Malt Scotch.
The 1960s: Clear Choices
At the end of what cocktail historians refer to as the “golden age of cocktails,” the vodka martini – once dubbed the “silver bullet” – has been interpreted so many times that it’s almost unrecognizable. Nate takes it back to the silver bullet days with the Kangaroo, the perfect martini with a 2:1 ratio of American-made vodka and Dolin Dry Vermouth, garnished with a hint of lemon and Sicilian Castelvetrano olives to finish.
Nate’s drink of choice: Kangaroo with potato vodka, dry vermouth, Castelvetrano olives
This drink is both a tribute to a classic and a bit of a cheeky challenge. Most every bartender hates the vodka martini order so we wanted to make a vodka “martini” that we would enjoy drinking.
The 1970s: The Playboy Club
Rounding out the tribute is the era of excess with disco, Heff, Saturday Night Fever and the Chicago Playboy Club. This is a light, easygoing and salacious drink appropriate for the decade, The Playboy Club is an aperitif to get the night started (and keep it going).
Nate’s drink of choice: The Playboy Club with prosecco, passion fruit and lime
Whether you’re a history buff or cocktail aficionado, come check out this historic cocktail menu is now being served at Booth One. Join us for dinner, make your Booth One reservation now.