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History Straight Up

Jared Krupp brings vintage cocktail culture to life at 1901 Speakeasy.

By Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer

Photo by Viktor Budnik

RAISING THE BAR: Bartender Jared Krupp has elevated vintage cocktails — once made with homegrown, poorly regulated, inferior “hooch” — using locally sourced produce, fresh juices, house-infused spirits and other quality ingredients.

 

n the middle of Oxnard’s charming Heritage Square is a well-loved Italian restaurant called La Dolce Vita, owned by Michelle and Greg Kenney and operated out of the historic Laurent/McGrath House since 2006. The multilevel Colonial Revival home is a popular spot for elegant lunches, special-occasion dinners, monthly cooking classes and more. And, it has a fun little “secret”: the newly opened 1901 Speakeasy.

No password is required — although it may take you a moment to locate it, as it is “hidden” away somewhat in the basement. The dark, private, atmospheric spot (formerly LDV Lounge) has all the feel of an illicit hideaway, making it perfect for a Prohibition Era theme. The lighting is low, the decor is dark, and behind the bar you’ll find manager Jared Krupp in his vest and driving cap, looking like an old-time tavern proprietor. Which is suitable, as 1901 Speakeasy specializes in vintage cocktails.

Krupp is an art teacher by education and training (some of his work is on 1901 Speakeasy’s walls), but he put himself through school tending bar and working in the restaurant industry. He met the Kenneys when he and his wife were having dinner at La Dolce Vita, and the restauranteurs were chatting with customers. Krupp was intrigued when he learned that they had plans to remodel.

“The minute I started walking down the stairs, it was a no-brainer: This would make a perfect speakeasy,” he recalls thinking. “I literally came on board about two weeks later. And we tore the place up.”

He helped oversee the basement’s transformation into an elegant throwback to the early 20th century — which fit the location, as the Laurent/McGrath house was built in 1901. Remodeling took three months, and while construction was underway, Krupp immersed himself in Prohibition Era cocktail culture.

“I did a lot of research and watched every documentary that was out,” he says. 

One thing he learned: Illegally produced liquor was usually made with quantity, not quality, in mind . . . and it showed. “A lot of the cocktails were invented to mask the taste of the liquor, rather than enhance it.” Libations evolved as tastes became more sophisticated . . . and the ingredients improved. 

Michelle Kenney and Krupp worked together — reading, researching, tasting — to develop classic cocktails that stayed true to their roots, but had a bit of polish for the modern palate. 

“I really looked at old menus and saw what were the most popular drinks,” he says. “I wanted to make it simple enough to make it more pure.” And, unlike the bathtub hooch of decades past, in Krupp’s recipes, “It’s the quality of the ingredients and the simplicity of the drinks that make them so cool. We want the flavors to shine. We don’t want to lose the essence of the high-end liquors that we’re using.”

The 1901 Speakeasy menu is a step back in history. And for those interested in a little culinary time travel, he has shared some of his favorite old-school recipes. 

1901 Speakeasy at La Dolce Vita
740 South B Street, Oxnard
805.486.6878
www.1901speakeasy.com

 

SOUTHSIDE
Based on a recipe developed by a gangster on Chicago’s Southside, who used mint, lime and sugar to disguise the taste of his low-quality, homemade “hooch.”
8-10 mint leaves
1 1⁄2 oz. gin
1⁄2 oz. lime juice
1⁄2 oz. simple syrup
Muddle mint leaves and lime juice in a shaker. Add gin, simple syrup and ice. Shake well and double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with lime and mint and serve.

 

HEMINGWAY DAIQUIRI
A traditional daiquiri features just gin, lime and sugar or simple syrup. But to craft a libation worthy of the Nobel Prize-winning author, a more complex concoction is called for, with sweet notes of maraschino liqueur and the tartness of grapefruit.
1 1⁄2 oz. white rum
1⁄2 oz. maraschino liqueur
1⁄2 oz. grapefruit juice
1⁄2 oz. lime juice,
1⁄2 oz. simple syrup
Pour all ingredients into a shaker filled 2/3 with ice and shake well. Krupp prefers to strain it into a chilled coupe, but it can also be served over ice. Either way, garnish with a wheel of lime or with an orange and a maraschino cherry, as shown here.

 

BOULEVARDIER
According to Krupp, the boulevardier is ascribed to Erskine Gwynne, an American writer who founded a monthly magazine in Paris called Boulevardier, which appeared from 1927 to 1932. Similar to the Negroni, but made with whiskey instead of gin, it is starting to regain popularity.
1 1/2 oz. whiskey
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. sweet vermouth
Shake well in a shaker filled 2/3 with ice and strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass.

 

SAZERAC
Many claims are made about this historic drink. It is thought to be the first known American cocktail, predates the Civil War, was possibly developed by apothecary Antoine Peychaud, may have originally been served in a cup designed for eggs called a coquetier (from which the word “cocktail” originated) and the original spirit was cognac. Some of these notions are disputed. What most can agree on is that it was widely served in the Sazerac Bar in New Orleans and gets its distinctive licorice flavor from absinthe.
1 1⁄2 oz. whiskey
1⁄2 oz. simple syrup
2 dashes Peychauds bitters
Absinthe rinse
Pour a bit of absinthe into a chilled coupe glass and discard. Place the whiskey, syrup and bitters in a shaker filled 2/3 with ice and shake well. Strain into the coupe and garnish with a lemon twist. 

 

BEES KNEES
The highest compliment that could be paid in the Roaring Twenties was to call someone or something “the bee’s knees.” Honey is suitably employed in this smooth, fragrant drink; Krupp’s top pick is Bennett’s Honey Farm in Fillmore.
2 oz. gin
1⁄2 oz. lemon juice
1 1⁄2 oz. honey
Pour all ingredients into a shaker filled 2/3 full with ice, and shake well. Strain into chilled coupe glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.

GIN RICKEY
Lobbyist Joe Rickey is rumored to be the inspiration behind this lime-laced highball, originally made with bourbon.
1 1⁄2 oz. gin
1⁄2 oz. lime juice
Club soda
Pour all ingredients into a tall highball glass and garnish with lime.

MARY PICKFORD
A fruity drink whipped up (so they say) for the silent movie star while she was vacationing in Havana.
1 1⁄2 oz. white rum
1⁄2 oz. pineapple juice
1⁄2 oz. maraschino liqueur
3 dashes grenadine
Shake well in a shaker filled 2/3 with ice and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with an orange wheel and maraschino cherry.

WARD EIGHT
According to Krupp, a Boston bartender came up with this whiskey drink on an election night in the late 19th century, when a Gilded Age politician who had rigged Boston’s Ward Eight voting district won his seat on the Massachusetts State Legislature.
1 oz. whiskey
1⁄2 oz. lime juice
1⁄2 oz. simple syrup
1⁄2 oz. orange juice
1⁄2 oz. maraschino liqueur
2 dashes grenadine
Place all ingredients into an ice-filled shaker and shake well. Strain into chilled coupe glass and garnish with an orange wheel and a maraschino cherry.

FRENCH 75
The canon de 75 modele 1897 — aka French 75 — is widely regarded as the first modern artillery piece. The formidable weapon gained fame during World War I, and was honored with this summery drink made with gin (a Prohibition Era staple) and the most French of all beverages, champagne. Any dry sparkling wine, however, will do.
1 oz. gin
1⁄2 oz. simple syrup
1⁄2 oz. lemon juice
Champagne or other sparkling wine
Shake gin, syrup and lemon juice in a shaker 2/3 filled with ice and strain into a champagne glass. Top with champagne, garnish with a lemon twist and serve.

07/01/2019

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