Every good bartender knows a peculiar rule of cocktails: if you reference a dog in the name of a drink, it will likely have some form of grapefruit in it.
“I couldn’t tell you the etymology behind it, but it’s a cocktail convention that’s been around for ages,” says Chris Hysted-Adams of world-renowned bar The Black Pearl. “The most common example would be the Salty Dog, which is just a Highball with grapefruit juice.”
So when crafting a pair of drinks to celebrate Isle of Dogs, the new stop-motion animated feature from Wes Anderson, Hysted-Adams knew grapefruit had to be one of the ingredients.
Isle of Dogs is Anderson’s first directorial feature since 2014's critically acclaimed The Grand Budapest Hotel. It tells the story of Atari Kobayashi, a 12-year-old living in Megasaki City. When all dogs are exiled to a vast garbage dump, Kobayashi sets off in search of his bodyguard-dog Spots, getting help from dogs he meets along the way. The cast is classic Anderson, featuring familiar names in Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Liev Schreiber and more.
Isle of Dogs, Wes Anderson
Hysted-Adams says the team at The Black Pearl relates to Anderson’s laser-like focus on tiny details. “It’s his attention to detail, full-stop,” says Hysted-Adams. “It’s a mutual un-derstanding of the craft. We’re pretty nerdy, and we at The Black Pearl like smuggling little references into drinks, in names and all that. You see the way Anderson does that, executing it down to the finest detail, and it’s something you’ve got to respect.”
To begin the process of creating a drink, Hysted-Adams applied the knowledge about using grapefruit in cocktails named after dogs, and matched it with the name of one of the dogs, called King.
“Most references to royalty in a drink means there’s going to be some kind of sparkling wine involved,” says Hysted-Adams. “So it worked out pretty well with King, because there’s already two ingredients there for us: bubbles and grapefruit.”
The King cocktail, served at The Attic above The Black Pearl is a mix of Tanqueray T10, grapefruit sherbert, orange and lemon juice, and a dash of Punt e Mes – a vermouth-style liquor that represents King’s ginger hue.
Also on pour is the Jupiter, a combination of burnt-butter Laphroaig, alpine-style amaro and Australian muscat. “One of the things about the character Jupiter which really stood out was the description of his voice – it’s briny, smoky and it’s been turned down a couple of octaves,” says Hysted-Adams. “To represent that raspy voice we’ve used some really nice smoky whisky. Then to help soothe that voice, with a Butter Menthol vibe, we’ve infused it with burnt butter to give a bit of weight to the drink.”
The muscat, of course, is a nod to Jupiter’s breed: he’s a Saint Bernard. “There’s a fair few conflicting arguments as to what Saint Bernards actually held in those little barrels,” says Hysted-Adams, referencing the stereotypical small wooden keg depicted around the dog’s necks in cartoons and popular culture. “Brandy and wine, grape-based products, were often what we found to be said. It’s definitely some creative license using muscat. But it’s pretty delicious.”
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Isle of Dogs, the new film from Wes Anderson, in cinemas April 12. Watch the trailer below.