Celebrate the New '20s With a Spin on Some 1920s Cocktails

Lauren Fisher, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Zac Zubal at Johnny's Italian Steakhouse
Zac Zubal at Johnny's Italian Steakhouse

The Chippewa Valley is getting ready to toast in 2020; it’s time to prepare for the occasion by practicing a modern spin on some classic cocktails.

“The classics are good, we know that, that’s why they’re classics. We don’t need to go too far beyond that.”

You might have seen Zac Zubal pouring beers at the Thirsty Badger or mixing cocktails at the late Local Lounge. Now, though, you’re more likely to see him at Dive in downtown Eau Claire or managing the bar at Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse, where he’s working to introduce a new line of cocktails.  

“I think cocktails are becoming a bigger part of the bar scene, especially in Eau Claire so close to the (Twin) Cities,” Zubal said. “A lot of people don’t go out that often, and when they do come here they want to get something they can’t get anywhere else.”

Zubal is the expert Volume One reached out to learn how to make sure the next set of Twenties is just as roarin’ as the last.

Check out these three neoclassical cocktails he’s stirred and shaken up:

From left to right: The Penicillin, The Old Cuban, The Oaxaca  Old-Fashioned
From left to right: The Penicillin, The Old Cuban, The Oaxaca Old-Fashioned

The Penicillin

The Inspiration:

  • A Whiskey Sour – bourbon, lemon juice, and simple syrup

The 2020 version:

  • 2 oz. of smoky blended scotch
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz. ginger honey syrup

Shake the concoction with ice and strain over rocks in an Old-Fashioned glass.

From Zac: “The classics are good, we know that, that’s why they’re classics. We don’t need to go too far beyond that.”


The Old Cuban

The Inspiration:

  • A French 75 (gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, sparkling wine) and a Mojito (rum, simple syrup, lime juice, sparkling water)

The 2020 remix:

  • 1 oz. aged rum
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 2 dashes simple syrup
  • 2 oz. sparkling wine, served with mint

From Zac: “It’s marrying a mojito and a French 75 together; it’s really palatable for just about anyone.”


The Oaxaca Old-Fashioned

The Inspiration:

  • An Old-Fashioned 
  • Bourbon or rye whiskey, bitters, sugar cube, plain water

With 2020 flair:

  • 1 oz. tequila
  • 1oz. mezcal
  • 2 dashes chocolate bitters
  • simple syrup
  • garnished with flamed orange

From Zac: “The smokiness brings more intense flavors to the drink.”

Craft of Cocktails is sponsored by:

Johnny's Italian Steakhouse
Holiday Inn
South I-94

Craft of Cocktails is sponsored by:

Johnny's Italian Steakhouse
Holiday Inn
South I-94