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I'll drink to that

Melissa Topey • Aug 25, 2014 at 12:20 PM


I was slinging classic cocktails in Sandusky's nicest speakeasy.

On Tuesday I was the eager student behind the bar of the Volstead Bar listening to all that the beautiful and intelligent drink guru Nikki Lloyd had to teach.

“Creating the perfect craft cocktail requires having appreciation for the cocktail by using quality ingredients and precise measurements,” Lloyd said.

Lloyd and her husband Ryan Whaley opened the Volstead at the end of January. Whaley also operates the public relations firm Green Door Mediaworks out of the same building. The building has an interesting tale, it used to be the old Dorn Winery and then it was known as the Green Door brothel.

It is the perfect setting for an old school prohibition style speakeasy.

The couple moved back to Sandusky from Colorado in 2012 with the goal of promoting the city and everything there is to do. They are succeeding.

With us in the bar was Mark McGory and Meridyth Gilhuly.

These two love to laugh and have fun.

McGory was drinking Singapore Slings and Gilhuly was drinking the Moscow Mules, one of the more popular drinks at the Volstead.

They already had their drinks so Lloyd offered to teach me how to make a French 75.

I got excited. I had seen Whaley make that before for a customer and had wanted to try it.

Champagne glass in hand (what is more elegant than a champagne flute I ask) she hands me a small blue vial of Absinthe. I felt like an old time Apothecary.

The clear liquid has a taste of black liquorish. I coated the flute using an eyedropper.

Then in another glass I mixed gin, fresh squeezed lemon juice and simple syrup.

I shook it up with the traditional shaker using the over the shoulder move.

I poured the mixture into the flute and topped it off with champagne (the best part of the drink in my opinion).

I peeled a lemon, twisted it over the drink so the essence fell into the drink, ran the lemon peel over the rim and dropped it into the drink to finish it off.

I tried my French 75. It was delicious, in fact this may eclipse the Gimlet as my favorite drink.

There is a vodka version called the French 76 for those who do not like gin.

McGory and Gilhuly ordered another round of drinks. I was about to learn how to make a Singapore Sling.

“Have you washed your hands?,” McGory teased.

I had.

The Singapore Sling is more complicated to make. There are tons of recipes so it is hard to know what the original ingredients of the drink were.

The Volstead version has eight ingredients- gin, pineapple juice, lime juice, cherry heering, Cointreau, Benedictine liqueur and Angostura bitters.

Shake, top with soda and garnish with an orange slice and a luxardo cherry.

I was very focused when I was measuring out the ingredients.

The Volstead measures everything.

“That way the third tastes the same as the first,” Lloyd said.

“I am sorry it took me longer than when Nikki makes it,” I said to McGory as I sat his drink down on a napkin.

He took a sip and teasingly acted like he spit it out, telling me to leave it to the professionals.

“Don't quit my day job,” I responded coyly.

“Is it okay though? Nikki can make you another if it isn't,” I said in all sincerity.

“No. Its fine,” he said laughing.

The Moscow Mule is much simpler- made with Vodka, a squeeze of lime juice and ginger beer.

For those who have never had one, it is a refreshing drink in the summer heat.

These classic cocktails on the Volstead drink menu are fun to make.

“In the words of one of our barkeeps 'It is a drink and a show',” Lloyd said.

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