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Surfer on Acid: Tradition Makes Over a Dive Bar Classic 

Wednesday, Sep 5 2012
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There is a class of cocktails whose sole purpose is to deliver as much alcohol as painlessly as possible. These mixtures are either loaded with enough sugar to mask the burning sensation as they go down, or intensely flavored enough to qualify as a dare. Drinks like the Long Island iced tea, the slow comfortable screw, and the mind eraser are the one-night stands of the cocktail world — any lengthy relationship with them is guaranteed to end badly. At Tradition, Beverage Director Ian Scalzo takes these drinks to finishing school and gives them a pedigree fit for the Bourbon & Branch crew's latest bar.

On the American Dive Bar portion of the menu, Scalzo remixes the classic combination of coconut rum, Jägermeister, and pineapple juice into a totally new version of the surfer on acid ($9, Matusalem Platino rum, Ron Zacapa rum, Averna, pineapple gum syrup, lemon, coconut marmalade). His take on the infamous concoction has all the tropical qualities of the original, but reinvigorates it with a tiki twist that Scalzo says simply evolved as he was breaking down the original's flavor profiles.

The combination of rum, pineapple, and coconut summon that warm, sandy, beachy feeling of vacations past. The Averna Italian bitter liqueur provides it with an earthier herbal kick, but it's well-mannered and doesn't dominate the rest of the drink. Scalzo says that people love his new version of the cocktail. "It's cool to see them have a new experience on a drink they think they've had before," he notes.

There is plenty to love on the rest of the themed menus (Irish pub, English pub, Scottish pub, grand hotel, speakeasy, the Big Easy, tiki), but the surfer on acid is remarkable in a double-take way — like running into an old flame who went from hot mess to success.

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