The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog, a mid-19th century-style saloon hidden away in the Financial District, recently unveiled an edgy new cocktail menu that looks like something you’d be more likely to find in a library than a barroom.
Upon first glance, you might mistake the menu for a graphic novel or comic book. But flip through the gold-embossed tome and you will find that it doubles as cocktail list with 35 Irish whiskey-focused drinks. Interspersed among the cocktail descriptions are illustrations that tell the rags to riches life story of John Morrissey, the imposing Tammany Hall-era Irish immigrant who founded the Dead Rabbits street gang in New York City.
The menu is organized according to periods of Morissey’s life—the book starts with “Fresh” and “Fiery,” and ends with “Ambitious” and “Cultivated.” Each period is accompanied by eight cocktail options.
The menu simultaneously recounts the rise and fall (and rise) of Irish whiskey in America, as told by Whiskey Magazine contributing editor Dave Broom. Towards the end of the 19th century, Irish whiskey was among the most popular spirits in the world, but over the course of the 20th century, it fell out of favor.
Dead Rabbit bartender Bobby Hiddleston says, “A lot of that is due to the ’90s when shots of Jameson started becoming popular, so there’s a slight stigma which we’re trying to break. We plan to do that by helping people understand that Irish whiskey is versatile.”
While there are only five distilleries operating in Ireland right now, the Irish whiskey industry is growing, says Hiddleston. “In the next 10 years, we’re predicting 20 to 25 whiskey distilleries coming up in Ireland. So we’re really trying to energize that trend and go along with it.”
For those interested in the art of menu design, it will be tough to resist sneaking one of these bad boys into your back pocket on the way out. (Don’t—you can buy it for $50 if you really must have one.)
Click through the gallery above to ogle more of the menu illustrations, which are the work of DRINKSOLOGY Creative. Then take a look below at a sampling of cocktails from the Dead Rabbit’s new menu.
Jameson Black Barrel Irish Whiskey, Jamaican rum blend, Irish stout, lemon, Dead Rabbit Orinoco Bitters
Battle of Troy
Jameson Original Irish Whiskey, Absolut Craft Herbaceous Lemon Vodka, pine, lemon, eucalyptus
Powers John’s Lane Release Irish Whiskey, ginger, banana, allspice, chocolate, Dead Rabbit Orinoco Bitters
Go Try These Drinks
Address: 30 Water St (646-422-7906, deadrabbitnyc.com)
Hours: Taproom hours: 11am—4am every day; Parlor evening hours: 5pm—2am Monday to Wednesday, 5pm—3am Thursday to Sunday