In David’s case, she created that place of belonging. The vision for Nitecap came at a time when all the cocktail bars were very serious and male-dominated, aka “the heyday of the mustache, suspenders, and jazz music vibe,” as she puts it. What her team envisioned was a much more accepting and open place, where not only anyone could work, but also a place where anyone could drink.
The menu felt more relaxed than its cocktail counterparts at the time, with lots of options for shot-and-beer pairings, concoctions in slushie machines, and a constant rotation of spritzes. The clientele was just as laid back, representing all walks of life and the bar shied away from any kind of snobbiness.
That same playful and welcoming sensibility is weaved throughout Drink Lightly, and epitomized in her recipe for a Bamboozicle—a sherry, vermouth, and fruit slushie topped with edible glitter that she lovingly refers to as “disco dust.”
“We always had a classic Bamboo cocktail on tap, and putting it in the slushie machine was one of the most Nitecap things we could have done,” she says. “This is how I think about cocktails, adding a fun and unexpected element that may seem silly, but tastes really good. I like drinks to have a sense of humor, and disco dust is the ultimate wink at the end.”
The drink combines amontillado sherry, white and dry vermouth, orange juice, strawberry puree, banana rum, and simple syrup. For the home bartender, David provides a recipe that calls for a blender instead of a slushie machine. She also advises to use more simple syrup than you think you need, since ice ultimately mellows out flavors.
“You add more sugar than you normally would for a drink, since all of that ice blending things together muddles flavors and sweetness helps bring out flavors,” David says. “Sugar makes things taste better. If you put sugar on strawberries and let them macerate, it accentuates that taste of the strawberry. Upping the sugar content in frozen drinks helps bring everything out.”
No matter what cocktail you decide to make from Drink Lightly, David hopes it can open readers up to new ingredients and innovative ways to use things like sherry, vermouth, and aquavit.
“You might have to call five different liquor stores to find some of these ingredients, but then the more you buy it, the more places will stock it,” she says. “The goal is to show that there’s so much more to low-ABV drinking than just added soda water. The whole point is to make this world more inclusive and provide more people a seat at the table.”