Peachy Keen might have opened in 2022, but a walk-in could be forgiven for thinking they’d just stumbled into 1977. There’s the matter of its retro-glam décor—which could be mistaken for the set of The Gong Show—but more importantly for our purposes, a cocktail menu populated by drinks named Disco Sally or Tijuana Sunrise and the presence of fruity liqueurs galore.
Yes, the Times Square-adjacent bar is pursuing a very deliberate ‘70s theme, which is undoubtedly fun but fraught with danger. After all, weren’t all those humorously named ’70s drinks also famous for being… not so great by modern standards?
It’s a challenge that beverage director Kimberly De Jesus has tackled head-on.
“Most ‘70s cocktails were simple, but they all had that element of fun, whether it was in the name or the fluorescent coloration,” she says. “We wanted to echo that sentiment of approachability, nothing too crafty, but thoughtfully balanced, so we pulled inspiration from the ‘70s but were also inclusive of modern bar standards.”
As one example, she points to the bar’s interpretation of a Pink Lady, a drink typically made with gin, applejack, lemon juice, and grenadine. To cut back on the drink’s sweetness she nixed the grenadine but replaced it with a mellower watermelon syrup and introduced Peychaud’s bitters for balance.
The presence of sweet liqueurs like Galliano, Gran Marnier, and Drambuie in ‘70s cocktails presented another challenge. Rather than removing them from drinks, De Jesus chose to round the recipes out with more flavors, whether they be floral, citrusy, or herbal. For instance, its take on the Godfather cocktail, called An Offer You Can’t Refuse, includes both Amaretto and Drambuie but gains depth from the addition of walnut bitters.
While the cocktails of the era went wild with liqueurs, base spirits were rather limited. “Outside of the Slow Screw category, most ‘70s cocktails have vodka,” De Jesus Says. “That alone makes for a less interesting starting profile for a drink, so we had to explore alternatives—gin, tequila, rum—that would help aid a more complex flavor profile.”
To that end, Peachy Keen features cocktails like the mezcal-based Tijuana Sunrise or the Smokey’s Bandit prepared with smoked Four Roses bourbon. Their base spirits may be less groovy, but their other ingredients (Cointreau and fruit juices in the case of the former, candied pecans for the latter) tap into that ‘70s zeitgeist.
Some cocktails have gone the opposite way, drawing their inspiration from modern trends before being retrofitted for a more Carter-era flavor profile. De Jesus cites the Up All Night as an example of this approach: made with vodka, Bacardi Black Rum, Tia Maria Coffee Liqueur, cinnamon, espresso, and orange bitters, it transports the currently very in-vogue Espresso Martini back in time.
But most importantly, drinking at Peachy Keen is meant to be fun. Lest the drinker forget, there’s a Trippie Hippie made with two gins, lavender, honey, and lime served in a mushroom-shaped glass, and a rum punch dubbed Disco Sally that arrives in a light-up, 20-ounce disco ball.
“It’s a time period that evokes a level of nostalgia that’s a little more lighthearted and feel good,” De Jesus says. “The past two years have been very uncertain, and I think that everybody could use a little bit more fun.”