Low-ABV cocktails might be trendy right now. But when the time calls for a stiff drink, how about a cocktail with a two-per-customer limit?
If you’re up for the dare, here are three cocktails that are so strong, their bartenders only recommend ordering two max.
Fort Defiance’s White Zombie
Famed tiki bar founder Donn Beach’s Zombie is made with at least three different rums and limited to two drinks per person at his Don the Beachcomber bars. Fort Defiance’s own spin on the classic features white rum, overproof gin, its house falernum (made with overproof Jamaican rum), coconut and maraschino liqueurs and absinthe on the booze front, as well as passion fruit lime, grapefruit and cinnamon. “Strength-wise, it’s at least equal to a regular drink-and-a-half, maybe two,” said Fort Defiance owner St. John Frizell. “The limit, as Donn understood, is part warning, part straight marketing gimmick — who wouldn’t want to try to push their luck? It’s almost a dare.” The White Zombie is on the brunch menu, though can be ordered any time for those “in the know.” As far as pushing their luck, the bar’s guests usually stick to the two-drink limit. “After two, they become mindless and obedient, like the zombies of Haitian folklore,” Frizell said. ($14; 365 Van Brunt St., Red Hook, 347-453-6672, fortdefiancebrooklyn.com)
It may be named after the beer-and-shot combo, but the cocktails are a draw at this East Village bar — especially the Zombie. The rum-based libation features three rums — Barbados, Jamaican and 151 — and topped with absinthe, alongside grapefruit, lime, falernum, grenadine, cinnamon gomme and bitters. “It’s a pretty strong cocktail but it’s well-balanced so doesn’t taste strong when you are drinking it,” owner James Tune said. It also has the added challenge of being one of several cocktails on tap. “[It’s] very difficult to execute a tap cocktail that contains fresh citrus in it but we do it,” Tune said. Bar-goers respect the two-drink max, he said, with many ending up sharing a second order if they get that far. ($16; 13 First Ave., 212-995-5400, boilermakernyc.com)
Fancy Nancy’s The (Legendary) Hustle
This cocktail features tiki spices, tropical juice and “all the rums”: Cruzan Black Strap, Denizen Aged White Rum and Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum, for 31⁄4 oz. of booze versus the typical 2 oz. found in the rest of the Brooklyn restaurant’s cocktails. “It’s really more of a challenge, but since it is the strongest cocktail, it allows me an easy way to cut someone off if they are getting rowdy,” said co-owner Kristin Walker, who devised the legendary drink, of the limit. It’s ordered at least once a day, and while some accept the challenge, others “start feeling silly” after the first and switch to a different drink for their second cocktail, she said. ($13; 1038 Bedford Ave., Bedford-Stuyvesant, 347-350-7289, fancynancybk.com)