What is the best thing you ever found inside an Easter egg? Chocolate? Jelly beans? Maybe a couple of quarters? None of that compares to what’s inside the icy eggs served at Alexandria, Virginia’s Jackson 20: booze.
Inspired by “in the rocks” cocktails served at Aviary in Chicago, Jackson 20’s head bartender, Andy Nelson, developed the For the Birds—a name that both references the egg-shaped ice and pays homage to Aviary’s bartenders. To make the egg, Nelson freezes a balloon filled with filtered water until a substantial shell forms but the egg is not frozen solid. He drains it using a flavor injector, and stores the egg in a plastic box in the freezer. When one of the drinks is ordered, he refills the egg with a vibrant red Boulevardier: Willett Pot Still bourbon, Campari and Carpano Antica vermouth.
“A Boulevardier is actually my favorite cocktail,” Nelson says. “I figured if I was going to put that much effort into a drink, I was going to make something I loved.” Before serving the cocktail, Nelson torches a plank of cedar wood and extinguishes it with a rocks glass, which fills with flavorful smoke. He flips over the glass, adds the frozen egg and smashes it with a hammer to release the cocktail. After that, it’s ready to drink.
Jackson 20 will offer the For the Birds cocktail through Easter, after which Nelson plans on switching to easier-to-produce cocktail spheres.