The Straz Center’s resident mixologist draws inspiration from the shows in our Broadway series lineup, concocting one-of-a-kind signature highballs to salute and celebrate each production.
When the Broadway production plays the Straz Center, the performers onstage aren’t the only ones flexing their talents.
Out in the lobby behind the bar, the creative handiwork of Straz Center Food & Beverage Operations Kyle Masson also is on display.
Each production on the Straz Center’s 2022-23 Broadway season will be commemorated with a signature cocktail available at each performance.
Kyle’s predecessor at The Straz began the tradition, somewhat tentatively, crafting “little featured martinis that were very basic. They didn’t necessarily translate to the show but were somehow related,” Kyle said.
“In my second year, I took it another step up and decided to go much further with each drink and make something unique,” Kyle said. “Better garnishes, more unique liquors, something that actually made people want to order them.”
Pictured: Kyle working on the show cocktails for this year, probably.
Take his cocktail created for Wicked – Midori, a melon liqueur; frozen grapes; Ciroc vodka and “then the dry ice bubbling on top,” Kyle recalled. “This was one of the first ones we did when we were naïve and didn’t realize how much work it is to get dry ice in these.”
The Smokey Cauldron will be available to drink when Wicked flies in to the Straz from March 8-26, 2023.
Kyle can go nuts with garnishes and presentations, but the drink itself has to appeal to the audience.
“I’ve gone pretty crazy with garnishes because you can change color dramatically,” Kyle said, “but we have very traditional guests so I can’t go too crazy.”
If there’s a formula for telling which cocktail will be a hit and which will be a “meh,” Kyle hasn’t found it yet.
“Sometimes you make something and you think it’s going to sell really well, then you have some you’re not sure about and they sell really well,” Kyle said. “We did a chocolate martini for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that was super rich. I didn’t think people would want more than one of them because of how sweet it was but people loved it. We ran out of the chocolate straws we were using for them.“ Kyle looks for something about the show to draw on for inspiration. Inspiration can come from the show’s title, a character, its setting. Sometimes inspiration comes easily, sometimes not.
To Kill a Mockingbird, for example, is set in the Deep South, which Kyle said “gives you a lot to work with there. You can do a lot of things with Southern bourbon and iced tea and peaches.”
On the other hand, Hadestown, Kyle said doesn’t “have a lot to work with so I’m trying to play off the red flower,” featured on the musical’s poster. Chicago is a well-known musical with a well-known plot, “so we’re going off the whole murder trial aspect, doing a smoking gun cocktail.”
Speaking of Hadestown‘s “red flower,” while it looks similar to a red carnation, the type of flower has never been officially stated.
Inspiration arrived quickly for the signature cocktail of SIX, a re-telling of the six wives of Henry VIII, which opens the Straz’s Broadway season.
SIX will be celebrated with Royal Lemonade: Empress 1908 gin (a purple gin), a little lemonade and lavender syrup. “Those kind of offset each other so the lavender isn’t too strong and the lemon isn’t too sharp,” Kyle said. “Between those two we add gold luster dust. It gives a very sparkled effect to the drink. It suspends itself in the cocktail. It doesn’t sink one way of the other so it will be a very gold and purple cocktail.”
You can get the aptly named Royal Lemonade when SIX comes to the Straz Nov 2-6, 2022.
“The goal is always to get them done before the season starts and get them up on the website,” Kyle said. “That way our season subscribers can see it and can drink along at home before they come in.”
We’ll drink to that.