Perhaps you've sampled classic cocktails like the negroni or the manhattan. But how about a Dorothy Dandridge, blending bourbon with amaro, Lillet Blanc, and cider? Or an el comediante, which combines red bell pepper-infused rum with ginger, lime, and red wine? Tradition meets invention at PostProhibition.com, a top-shelf dispensary of recipes, product reviews, and spirits-related lore. Local craft-tail impresario Josh Sullivan launched the website in 2010 and serves as virtual bartender. The site draws up to a thousand sets of eyeballs on busy days, typically when Sullivan posts a new item. Visitors have come from as far afield as China and New Zealand. Offline, Sullivan hosts cocktail events, pours at private venues, and consults on restaurant beverage programs.
Post Prohibition aims to engage the DIY mixologist. With detailed but approachable recipes-some supplemented by demonstration videos-Sullivan seems intent on demystifying cocktail alchemy and encouraging a try-this-at-home mindset. The biggest challenge home bartenders face, he says, "is thinking they need to have everything. They should start small and build with just a few ingredients-like St-Germain or different types of bitters-at a time."
Sullivan himself began with "good old American bourbon," he says. "I was pretty much raised on it, so I have a soft spot. When I was a kid, I would come in from playing and guzzle Dr. Pepper cans my father left in the fridge. I didn't realize until later that it tasted so nasty and burned because my father put his bourbon right in his Dr. Pepper can." A MICA-trained photographer, Sullivan went to New Orleans on a post-Katrina shoot and "had my first sazerac. It was my 'wow' moment. I came home with a bottle of Herbsaint [a key sazerac ingredient before the legalization of absinthe in 2007] and read everything I could get my hands on. Now I put my creativity into the craft of cocktails."
Sullivan hopes Post Prohibition captures the spirit of the times-and a time of new spirits. Drinkers "are becoming more aware of their taste buds, more aware of what's out there," he notes. "The whole distilled-spirit market is going crazy right now. In the same way Dogfish Head has taken on Budweiser, new craft gins are trying to take on the big guys. The great thing about this field is that something new is always hitting the shelves. So we will never go thirsty."