Dick and Jane may have been cartoonish kids in long-ago school books, but they’re very grown up in this pair of namesake cocktails, served at Loa Bar in vintage glasses (just like my grandmother’s set, which she used for serving ice cream).
The blushing orange drink is a perfumed stir of aged port and Strega, a liqueur adding a subtle minty finish. White whiskey brings the heat, but if you pull back and just inhale, the nose is plump and figgy.
Its companion, a honey-toned cocktail, leads with acidic pears and finishes on the Gran Classico’s bright orange notes and a spray of lemon bitters (it’s all grounded by mellow tequila).
Lushly textured, Dick and Jane have the fruits in common, and each uses a revived 1860s-era Italian liqueur.
Which cocktail wears the pants, then? You’ll be tricked by the garnishes on the plate: pistachios bring out the port’s nuttiness, while thick candied ginger slices pick up all the citrus in the other glass. (And consider that Strega means “witch” in Italian.)
So…which drink is Dick and which is Jane? “Yes,” says Alan Walter, who wrote Loa’s cocktail list, which appears on torn parchment like an old scroll unfolding itself to you. “Yes to whatever you’re experiencing. I don’t prescribe taste.”
As the bar’s buyer - and snake charmer - Alan often gets the city’s first bottles of certain exotic spirits, bending them to whatever creative spark he’s lit.
On this particular afternoon, he’s playing with a glass of lively Sinfo rosé, adding to it Dimmi, a pretty liqueur infused with peach and apricot flower blossoms. Then there’s lemon juice, and – plucked from the jars of fresh herbs lining the bar - fresh tarragon. We sample, like it, agree that maybe it calls for blood orange simple syrup. Whatever it will be, the seed’s been planted. I look forward to seeing it appear, fully grown, on the summer list.
Loa Bar at the International House Hotel, 221 Camp Street, 533.9550