On paper, the opulent 1930s theme of cocktail and champagne bar Nick & Nora’s might not fit with the tumultuous 1970s New York setting of The Continental: From the World of John Wick. But the two have more in common than you might think.
“[In the 1930s] there was lots of celebration, there were big excessive parties,” says Greg Sanderson, managing director of The Speakeasy Group (which runs Nick & Nora’s, Eau de Vie, Boilermaker House and Mjolner. “The 1970s were also pretty out-there and party-oriented, so while there’s a difference in era, there’s also a lot of similarities in that people wanted to party, they wanted to have a good time, they wanted to enjoy life.”
And this is a theme of the new John Wick prequel series The Continental. The series follows a young Winston Scott (Ian McShane in the original films, Colin Woodell in the prequel) as he navigates the underworld politics of gritty and groovy ’70s New York, fighting his way to becoming the proprietor of mysterious luxury hotel-slash-assassin sanctuary The Continental. Expect jaw-dropping action, a new crew to root for, retro fashion, a groovy backdrop and more.
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To celebrate the launch, Prime Video has partnered with Broadsheet and Nick & Nora’s on a bespoke cocktail inspired by the action-packed franchise and the new series. As a John Wick fan (“It ticks all the boxes”), Sanderson naturally had fun concocting the drink.
“Doing any cocktail creation with a brief like this doesn’t come along every day. Usually it’s [because] we’re putting on a new menu, the season’s changing, the ingredients are changing,” he says. “It’s not very often that you get a much cooler brief that’s like, ‘This cocktail is for John Wick’. It’s got layers of coolness attached to it that you jump at.”
The result is The Continental Martini, mixing the elements of a Vesper Martini (James Bond’s drink of choice, made with Kina Lillet) and a Breakfast Martini (with orange marmalade).
“It’s not a classic Martini recipe, but it’s a Martini-esque kind of cocktail,” he says. “Simple ingredients: [Bombay Sapphire] gin, rosemary-infused Lillet Blanc and some marmalade, which is how a lot of Martinis were looking in the 1970s. In New York, the hotel bar was big – the hotel bar was where you’d get the best cocktail in town.”
Another bit of inspiration from the franchise? The explosions, of course. Nick & Nora’s is known for theatrical presentation, and The Continental Martini delivers. It’s all done tableside, with liquid nitrogen brought over to make the glass cold to the touch. Once the cocktail’s been mixed and poured, the final touch is a sprig of rosemary that’s blowtorched in front of you, then used as garnish.
“I definitely wanted an element of fire in it; the action series with a bit of action in the drink presentation,” says Sanderson. “I wanted a simple drink with the complexity of fruit and something savoury like rosemary – it’s something I really like to drink.”
If you fancy trying The Continental Martini, Nick & Nora’s is serving
the cocktail Thursdays to Sundays from September 21 until October 1, and the first 20
people who order it each night can get one on the house.
“It’s obviously not The Continental that’s full of assassins, but it’s like getting out into a hotel in 1970s New York – it’s about a bit of escapism, it’s about a bit of fun – just as it is getting hooked on a great TV series,” says Sanderson.
*The Continental: From the World of John Wick is launching on Prime Video on the evening of September 22, 2023.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Prime Video.