Sure, American Hustle makes it seem like the ‘70s were all about low-cut dresses and Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams fighting over you (ladies, ladies, there’s plenty to go around), but it was also a time of unfortunate choices like polyester pantsuits and a laissez-faire attitude when it came to pruning body hair. Thankfully, a New York institution is throwing back to the days of disco in a way few people can resist—by giving the good, the bad, and the sometimes downright strange of ’70s drinking culture a 21st century update.
Gone are the days of Pink Squirrels, Singapore Slings, and Stingers (yes, those were all real drinks). Instead, East Village’s Golden Cadillac has assembled a roster that rivals the ’72 Lakers, with owners Giuseppe Gonzalez, James Tune, and Greg Boehm culling a cocktail menu from their impressive mixology experience at storied institutions such as Pegu Club and Cocktail Kingdom. In a bar that reeks so strongly of the ’70s you’ll be (pleasantly) surprised it doesn’t have shag carpeting, bartenders shake up elevated twists on favorites that haven’t seen the dimly lit counter of a bar in decades, including Harvey Wallbangers and the bar’s namesake Golden Cadillac. Take a trip back in time with the disco daiquiri, properly prepared sans blender, or get a little risqué with the hot buttery nipple—butter- and cacao-infused Jameson and demerara sugar, heated and topped with whipped cream.
The three-month-old watering hole also nods heavily to the past with its décor—wood paneling everywhere, a bar backsplash in muted reds, browns, and yellows, and a surprisingly not-out-of-place statue of a stern Native American—and the food menu, helmed by Miguel Trinidad. Perch at one of the cocktail tables skewered by a shiny stripper pole and order classics such as chicken liver pate (served with cake donuts), shrimp Louie, and meatloaf (although this time around given a veggie spin). Want an order of deviled eggs and a tequila sunrise? Groovy, baby. The Golden Cadillac is one of the few places in the city you can order bizarre concoctions buried in the annals of history with impunity.
And while the First Avenue bar may excel at reviving lost classics (and not-so-classics) for a crowd that for the most part wasn’t even alive during the decade, much less drinking, the Golden Cocktail still keeps its eye on the new and innovative. The Benton’s Old Fashioned gets a smoky hit from bacon-infused bourbon, and an Earl Grey infusion brings out gin’s botanical notes in the bar’s “Mar-Tea-Ni.” But still, you’re in a watering hole that deep down wants to be in the ‘70s. Act like it, order a drink, break out the Saturday Night Fever dance moves, and get down boogie. Actually, maybe skip the dancing. Some things are best left to the days of disco.