It is not required that you hang from a garbage truck, family trip it to a cemetery or experience mescaline before trying Smallman Galley’s new “The Royal Tenenbaums”-themed cocktail menu.
But if you didn’t recognize those as references to the film, you may want to rewatch it first.
That’s assuming you want to catch all the subtle references on display in this eight-drink ode to the Oscar-nominated film: The muted color palette; the dreamy, Wes Anderson Kodachrome aesthetic; the reason your glass is topped with a candy cigarette.
Or maybe you just want a tasty alcoholic beverage. If that’s the case, there’s really no need to look any further, you’ve found them. And watch whatever you want. May we recommend “Striking Distance”?
For fans of the Tenenbaums, though, the alcohol buzz supplied by these drinks will pair nicely with the natural high that accompanies such a thorough display of requited geekdom.
What appears to be an old DVD copy of the movie left at the Strip District bar by a patron is actually the menu, its cover photo recreated with Smallman staff standing in for the ensemble cast. (They have done this kind of thing before.)
Flip the DVD case over and you’ll find eight drinks with appropriately posh ingredients and Tenenbaum-centric names, like …
- Friscalating Dusklight — a combination of Beefeater gin, Prestogeorge nettle tea cordial, sage, lemon, and egg white.
- Hired Assassin — Maggie’s Farm pineapple rum, Appleton Estate reserve rum, Maggie’s Farm falernum, Fernet-Vallet, lime, guava, honey, and bitters.
- My Adopted Daughter — Hop Farm MargotBerry sour beer, Cimarron Reposado tequila, Ramazzotti Aperitivo, Falcon Spirits Aperitivo Aplomado, peach, grapefruit, lime, basil.
- Browse the full menu here.
The Fairest of the Seasons, a mix of Boyd & Blair vodka, Aperol, white port, POG shrub, honey, and bubbles, sits atop the list. It’s served in a glass milk-style carton — bar manager Matt Zelinsky confirmed this as the most frequently stolen piece of glassware they have — and it has an alcohol content rivaled only by its glucose content. To be clear, I am counting that as a positive.
For those who might not, the My Adopted Daughter has a much drier finish, thanks to the locally produced MargotBerry sour, and a relatively low alcohol content that lends itself to day drinking, assuming that’s your thing. It’s topped with a cocktail umbrella and a candy cigarette for good measure — a nod to Margot Tenenbaum, the chain-smoking, ennui-heavy one with kohl-rimmed eyes, played by Gwyneth Paltrow.
And the Friscalating Dusklight falls somewhere between the two — intensely herbaceous, tart, and sweet, but ultimately smoothed out by the egg white.
Regardless of which you choose, one can only hope you have as much fun drinking them as Zelinsky does making them.
Zelinsky, who’s been with Smallman since it opened in 2015, says movie-themed cocktail menus like this one have become a favored creative outlet for the bar staff there.
They’ve done this type of thing twice before — with “Sandlot” and “Empire Records” serving as the muse — and usually start by brainstorming a list of films. Then they whittle that list down, put it to a popular vote, pitch ideas for the drinks, and then head to Goodwill for the costumes they’ll use to recreate the movie posters and front the menus.
“Start by watching the movie and then find your hook,” Zelinsky said of the creative process.
“From there, we set up a spreadsheet with about 14 cocktails and then we trim that down to the final eight.”
The goal, Zelinsky said, is to make something unique, whimsical, and unexpected.
“We like that element of surprise when someone says ‘Can I see the cocktail menu?’ and you push the DVD case in front of them and they have this moment of ‘Ah shit, we’re here to have fun.’” He added, “And that’s really what we’re trying to communicate with these.”
You can try one of the drinks now and into October, feeling free to tout your encyclopedic knowledge of Anderson’s oeuvre at the bar or just enjoy something delicious and beautiful before it’s gone. And then, if you’re up to it, maybe consider grabbing a couple burgers and hitting the cemetery.