Growing up in the 80s and 90s we did some strange things to our non-boozy cocktails. First there were the suicides, where we would expertly mix everything on the soda fountain. Then the brilliant idea came to throw different candies and other things to flavor up the sugary concoctions. Big Orange’s new cocktail menu is a lot like that, except way better than my Coke/Jolt Cola/Fanta/Ok Soda/Mountain Dew/Crystal Pepsi/Air Head candy concoction.
Sloe Jams takes a gin sour cocktail and throws in our favorite 90’s candy, Poprocks. The Poprocks add little flavor-wise to the solid cocktail, however each little sip brings a pop or two in your mouth with each drink. It is this bit of fun that keeps you ordering.
Also in the candy line up is the Roy G Bev. This is a take on a verdure featuring gin and green chartreuse that adds sour skittles to the mix. Unlike the Sloe Jams, the flavor and color changes a bit as the Skittles melt away. Different flavor Skittles and various amounts have different subtle impacts on the color and final flavor of the drink. I found myself watching the kaleidoscope of color forming in my glass after the Skittles slowly sank and gave up their color. It is a great last drink at a bar, after you have had a few and that sort of thing starts to amaze you.
“I wanted it to be fun. We are using the tagline ‘Play with your Cocktails’,” Beverage director Brett Bassett tells us. “Cocktails are fun anyway but you can throw in a little nostalgia and we think people will love it.”
Other cocktails come with some serious fun too. The Whiskey Barrel of Monkeys is a smooth Scotch drink that adds Creme de Banana and comes topped off with a few monkeys from the Barrel of Monkeys game.
It is not to say that everything is playful, there are a couple of very serious and very interesting drinks on the new menu. The Clarified Milk punch is one that will impress cocktail nerds. The crystal clear cocktail comes across creamy with a little sweetness on the backend, it will remind you of a classic snow cone on a hot day. To keep with the nostalgia the team found clear glass replicas of old school milk cartons as glasses.
Also one that will wow is the Jetson Spritz. They freeze Aperol and Cappelletti into an ice sphere and drop it into a glass of Prosecco. The drink starts off like a nice glass of bubbly, but as the sphere melts away the flavors of the sphere slowly merge in, transforming the drink into a spritz. It is one of the more unique drinks out there.
Added to the playful nostalgia of the latest cocktail menu is the best way to browse the menu. The Yellow Rocket team has put together old school 3D View Masters featuring all five cocktails.
“What is great is that I can bring these ideas to our design time and they almost always give it a go,” Bassett says. “It is really great working with the team here.”
The View Masters are available by request only, but it is a fun way to check out the menu. The new cocktail menu rolls out this week with a launch party at Big Orange Midtown tomorrow.