Down the Hatch - Hodges Bend
You might not expect a bar to be busy at 4 p.m. on a Tuesday, but Hodges Bend is. The shotgun room with the tin-stamped ceiling offers few empty seats. Patrons converse or work on their laptops as four bartenders bustle about pouring water, mixing drinks, pulling espresso, wiping down tables, and taste-testing. Bartender Florian Dotti hammers a rectangular block of ice into cubes at the marble-top bar while Chet Baker trumpets away through the speakers.
Jamie Jennings, the general manager, wraps up his appointment with Greek winemakers and joins me for a chat about one of his favorite subjects: session cocktails.
The Tulsa Voice: So, what’s a session cocktail?
Jamie Jennings: We focus on classic cocktails here, so the session cocktails we make are old drinks, old recipes. They’re fortified wine-based and lower in alcohol. Not booze-forward. Their complexity and balance comes from the wine, and the beautiful thing about them is that you can have a few and not be gone.
TTV: If someone is out at a bar and wants a session cocktail, what main ingredients should they look for?
JJ: The main ingredients should be fortified wines like Madeira, Port, sherry, or vermouth. Since wine is complex and balanced, using multiple balanced wines in a cocktail means a balanced drink.
TTV: Pop quiz. How many classic session cocktails can you name right now?
We both count on our fingers as Jennings quickly names twelve different drinks.
Dotti mixes us three pre-prohibition session cocktails, each of which run about $9 and can be ordered at Hodges Bend any time of the year.
recipe from 1930
Dry vermouth, Benedictine, absinthe, orange twist
Absinthe on the nose, floral, herbaceous, honey
recipe from 1914
Sherry, sweet vermouth, orange bitters, twist of lemon
Citric nose, almonds and green apple skin, tannin grip
recipe from 1931
Sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, apply brandy, apricot liqueur
Fruit-forward, herbaceous backbone, jammy
As we finish it off, Jennings tells me the Coronation is quaffable. “That means gulp-able,” he says, and laughs. “Chug-able. But, quaffable is the proper adjective.”
In “Down the Hatch,” assistant editor Liz Blood offers a look inside Tulsa’s many bars, pubs, saloons and gin joints. Send suggestions for future columns to email@example.com or @lizblood on Twitter.