Inside the Westworld Cocktail Experience at New York Comic Con—With Recipes
Fans of Westworld were treated to a taste of HBO’s mind-bending cowboy fantasy this weekend at New York Comic Con. Guests were invited, by appointment, to a semi-secret Delos outpost on the city’s west side where they were met by some of Dr. Ford’s “hosts” and encouraged to dive into the fantasy. Visitors got to belly-up to the bar in a replica of the Mariposa saloon, complete with a few of Maeve’s girls and a player piano churning out the show’s haunting soundtrack. But the three Westworld-inspired specialty cocktails, created by renowned mixologists Paul McGee and Shelby Allison of Chicago’s Lost Lake bar, were the real stars of the show (if not the installations whole raison d'être).
Much like the show, the Westworld experience is a bit more intense and psychological than you’d think. What would you really do in a world with few limits and no consequences? Are you a William or a Logan—or something else entirely? But don’t worry, Delos knows these are heavy questions and has programmed its hosts to help you out. Seated alone in a small room, a tablet-wielding host administers a personality test. In what is possibly the oddest quiz ever, you’re asked a series of abstract questions, like which artist should paint your portrait, or which finger you’d be willing to lose—followed by the mildly unsettling directive to mark said finger.
The cocktail lineup included a classic sherry punch, a sweetly tart mix of light Manzanilla and dark Amontillado sherries. There was also a creamy cognac-and-rum drink that felt much more wintry than western, but delicious nonetheless. The glasses were placed under a vintage, hand-cranked ice shaver and topped with freshly grated nutmeg. This milk punch will definitely take you from hoodie weather to winter wonderland and everything in between.
But it wouldn’t be the Wild West without whiskey, and the Blue Blazer, while an exceedingly far cry from the saloon fare of your grandpa’s westerns, steals the show. It starts with Westward single malt whiskey — which the Portland-based distillery calls “a grain-to-glass celebration of the American pioneer spirit” — Demerara sugar and bitters mixed in a metal mug. As Allison took a match to the concoction, McGee explained that drink’s name derives from the flaming blue arch as she pours it from one mug to another.
Demerara sugar is a coarse grained, unrefined sugar known for its natural molasses flavor. If you don’t have any on hand, or find it too hard to come by, have no fear. “It's very easy to make at home!” Allison says. “You can use any raw sugar (Sugar in the Raw, turbinado sugar) and make a 2:1 simple syrup by combining two parts sugar to one part water, stir over heat until all crystals dissolve, let cool, refrigerate and use for up to two weeks."
With drinks like these, why ever leave the Mariposa? Sweetwater can keep its horses and bandit adventures. But for those of you who missed out on the the chance to imbibe with nascently self-aware robots, here are McGee and Allison’s recipes (you’re on your own for the vintage ice-shaver).
- 1 oz. Manzanilla Sherry
- 1 oz. Amontillado Sherry
- ½ oz. lemon juice
- 1 oz. Mallorca tea syrup
- ¼ oz. pineapple vinegar
- 2 oz. water
- 2 oz. Westward Single Malt Whiskey
- Barspoon of Demerara sugar
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
- 1 dash Abbot’s Bitters
- 1 oz. cognac
- 1 oz. overproof rum
- 1 oz. cold brew coffee
- ¾ oz. spiced Demerara sugar
- ½ oz. heavy whipping cream