OLLIE IS THE opposite of a speakeasy — a bar so bright and airy it can’t be missed. Bottles stand out against the bar’s clean white walls. Guests sit on pale aqua slat-back chairs. And the most shocking part: Ollie has real live plants, succulents hanging from the ceiling and in tiny planters on each table. Owner John Parrott says the contrast is intentional: “I think it’s a California-type vibe. It’s a little brighter. It’s a little more open.” Forget the fake storefront or secret door — Ollie is meant to be seen. Their charming cocktail menu, which includes over a dozen well-considered offerings, also welcomes you in, even if you don’t actually drink cocktails. Parrott paid particular attention to their mocktail menu after seeing how hard it was for his wife to find good nonalcoholic drinks during her pregnancy. Here, you will find delicious booze-free offerings made from pineapple, toasted coconut, and craft kombucha.
To get the right, light peanut-butter flavor, you must let the peanut butter infuse with the bourbon over two days.
That’s not to say Ollie only serves lightweights. Parrott’s boozy BLVD starts with peanut butter Woodford Reserve bourbon, to which vermouth, Campari, and Aperol are added. It is easy to build, that is, if you begin the process a couple of days in advance. “This is a little tricky because it’s like a combination of an infusion and a fat wash,” Parrott says. To get the right, light peanut-butter flavor, you must let the peanut butter infuse with the bourbon over two days. After straining the mix, it is left in the freezer overnight, so any leftover peanut oils separate from the alcohol. “This cocktail should have just a hint of peanut butter flavor.”
It’s a twist on the Boulevardier, itself a twist on the Negroni, and Parrott considered both while developing the BLVD. “That's usually what I think about when I do a take on something. It’s like, ‘Okay, this is different, but is it at least as good as or better?’ Because if not, why am I doing it?” The BLVD is one of Ollie’s most asked-about drinks, but the laborious process can be intimidating. “It’s really easy to make when you order it, but the reason it’s really easy when you order it is because we took all this time on the back end to make the drink what it is.”
- 1 ½ oz peanut butter Woodford Reserve
- 1 oz Carpano Antica Formula vermouth
- ½ oz Campari
- ½ oz Aperol
- To prep the peanut butter bourbon: Grind peanuts in a food processor and lay them in a flat sheet pan.
- Pour over the Woodford bourbon; cover and let it sit for two days.
- Strain through a cheesecloth, then freeze overnight.
- Pour the bourbon into a bottle and discard any oils that have solidified.
- To build the drink: Combine peanut butter bourbon, vermouth, Campari, and Aperol. When serving, pour over a large cut cube and garnish with an orange peel.
Jessica Suarez Writer
Jessica Suarez is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.
Grant Cornett Photographer
Grant Cornett is a photographer and director based in Upstate New York. He likes to take pictures of pristine detritus and austere moments.