When Three Dots and a Dash opened in 2013, it was Paul McGee's ode to the tiki heyday post-World War II. Upon his departure a year-and-a-half later, the bar was stuck in limbo with a limited and somewhat unchanged cocktail menu. To fill his large shoes, they brought in equally acclaimed — although slightly less bearded — bartender Julian Cox from Los Angeles. Cox made his mark overseeing cocktail programs at restaurants throughout L.A. and, most recently, his first standalone bar concept The Fiscal Agent, before moving to Chicago to join Lettuce Entertain You. His new menu, launching tonight, will infuse tiki classics with modern techniques.
"What I have tried to do with this program is to still do the blended and buzzed drinks, but at the same time get everybody to celebrate the history of making cocktails," Cox says. "It's taking everything that's the best of tiki and presenting that the best way we can, but at the same time asking, ‘What's next? What else could tiki be?'"
This means classics such as the Missionary's Downfall, a blended beverage that is green in color, gets an update with mint leaves that are cryo-blanched in liquid nitrogen. The process imparts the mint's vibrant flavor and color into the drink, which is served as a cocktail rather than a slushie. Others rely on new glassware for a more modern look: The Surfer Port is a gin and cucumber cocktail that is served in a wave-shaped mug topped with salt foam, while the Aloha Felicia features Rum, coconut, pineapple, lime, Thai basil, and lemongrass in a green coconut mug.
The menu itself takes on a new look too with faded photographs displaying drinks in five categories: Creamy 'n' Delicious, New Classics, High Octane, Super Fresh, and Group Excursions. It is inspired by retro travel guides. "The idea of the menu itself is it's a guide book guiding you through the Isle of Three Dots and a Dash and the whole experience of what you can do when you're here," Cox says.