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’90s cocktails are making a big comeback


’90s cocktails are making a big comeback

Cosmopolitans, Margaritas, Appletinis, Sex on the Beach—these sweet, colourful cocktails were all the rage at the end of the last millennium, and they’re totally in again! For the latest edition of Fresh, we’ll take a little trip back in time with two mixologists… who grew up in the 1990s!

Published on August 22, 2023

Take one look at the young people in bars and listen to what’s playing on the radio (or rather, streaming platforms—let’s get with the times!), and it’s plain to see that the 1990s are back. And what we’re drinking is also on-trend: vibrant concoctions with provocative names that were hot in bars and at kitchen parties back then are also in vogue again, but with a modern twist.

To dive into the subject, we’re talking to Kate Boushel, Director of Beverage & Education for Groupe Barroco (Atwater Cocktail Club, Milky Way and Bon Délire) and Étienne Gratton Bourret, Co-Owner of La Florida in Laval, who each revisited the iconic cocktails of that decade in their own way.

The Sex on the Beach era

The World Wide Web made its debut in the ’90s. It was the era of boy bands and girl groups, dance music, as well as grunge and punk rock. In Sex and the City, Carrie downed cosmos as often as she changed outfits. In Quebec, Jean Leloup had a smash hit with “1990,” while our eyes were riveted to the small screen to catch everything on Chambres en ville, Les filles de Caleb, Lance et compte and La Petite Vie. 

“It was the heyday of Foufs and The Loft, of Sex on the Beach and sour mix. We tasted peach schnapps and grenadine more than alcohol,” said Kate Boushel, who was just starting to go to bars. 

At the time, the term “mixology” wasn’t well known. It wasn’t until a few years later that we saw a shift towards speakeasies, and mustachioed bartenders in white shirts and aprons dusted off their old cocktail recipe books dating from the Prohibition—and with them the Sazerac, Old Fashioned, Manhattan, and Mint Julep.

A nice bit of nostalgic fun

Kate noted that after several years of a strict, serious approach to mixology, we’re seeing a return to cocktails that are more accessible and easier to drink, like those that were popular before the year 2000. 

“We’re going back to cocktails from that time, but now we understand the chemistry behind them. Nowadays, we’re working with quality spirits and we make our own juice. We can use local artisanal ginger beer instead of ginger ale from a soda fountain,” said Kate. The result is more subtle, more refined.

Kate Boushel

Opened in March, the Bon Délire bar is a veritable ode to the 1980s and 1990s, with its pawnshop facade and eclectic, kitschy decor. Neon lights, a backlit bar, a leopard-skin pool table—it’s all about nostalgia here. On the menu, you’ll recognize many classics from the end of the millennium that have been updated, like the Long Island Iced Tea and Midori Sour.

Bon Délire bar

Appletini, Amaretto Sour and jello shots

Located in Sainte-Rose, Laval, not only does La Florida take its name from the 1994 Québécois cult film, but its menu is also packed with references to the 1990s. In addition to the essential Appletini and twists on the Tequila Sunrise and Amaretto Sour, it’s the Kir Royal jello shots that grab all the attention.

“They’re wildly popular! We started with two small platters of jello shots per night and we ended up needing a full fridge,” said Étienne Gratton Bourret, co-owner. He’s only in his early thirties and isn’t old enough to have been to bars in the ’90s, but he has nostalgic memories from that decade, which influence many elements of the La Florida experience. 

“We revisit classics that are a bit tacky and overly sweet that you could drink in cheap places,” said Étienne. Here, they focus on quality ingredients—fine local spirits, syrups and homemade juices—without being too precious. “It’s in your face—there are bold flavours. We really try to pack a lot of punch in our cocktails,” he added. 

It seems to be a big hit—there’s no lack of customers, even if some are a bit perplexed at first. “Sometimes we have to explain the vibe to them,” admitted Étienne laughingly.

Rediscover some iconic ’90s cocktails

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