Velveteen Speakeasy—hidden in the lowest level of 123 Second Street in Stillwater—feels at once like an exotic destination and also like it blends in. General manager and bar program designer Marcus Clark says that’s precisely the point.
“We are a modern take on a classic speakeasy. There’s an old-school art deco vibe with both prohibition-era cocktails and contemporary innovation of flavors,” he says. When it comes to the drinks, Clark gets a little feisty.
“We focus on fresh ingredients, great spirits and layers of flavor in our cocktails. I aim—in many of our cocktails—for a balance of sweet, savory, aromatics, weight, mouthfeel and presentation. There is much more to a great cocktail than a mustache and a bar spoon!”
Clark shares his favorite uses for gin, because—even in a cool basement—it’s summer out there! Buy a bottle or two, stash away these recipes and you’ll be set when the patio calls.
Strawberry and Basil Infusion
- 1.5 L London Dry Gin
- One package fresh strawberries (about 24)
- 4 whole lemons, sliced thin
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped and packed
Mix ingredients in a 2-liter Ball jar or airtight container and let sit, refrigerated, for 48 to 72 hours or until flavor is as you prefer. Shake once or twice a day while infusing and then strain out the solids. Pour 2–3 ounces over ice, stir with soda or sugar if desired and enjoy.
- 6 mint leaves
- 1 oz. simple syrup
- 2 oz. London Dry Gin
- 1 oz. lemon juice
- 3 dashes of Angostura bitters
Muddle the mint leaves in the simple syrup. Shake and strain over ice—or serve neat. Garnish with lemon or mint sprigs.
Velveteen’s “The Last Word”
- ¾ oz. London Dry Gin
- ¾ oz. green Chartreuse
- ¾ oz. Luxardo maraschino
- ¾ oz. fresh lime juice
Mix ingredients, shake for 20 seconds and strain neat or serve over ice. Garnish with a lime wheel or cherry.
“If you love bitter and you love gin, then you need to try a Negroni!” says Clark. “If you already know you like Negronis, why not make a couple dozen at once?”
- 1 L London Dry Gin
- 1 L sweet vermouth (try Antica Carpano, Alessio Rosso or Cocchi di Torino)
- 1 L Campari
Pour all three into a large container, stir and refrigerate. Pour 3 ounces over ice, stir for 20 seconds and enjoy with an orange or grapefruit slice.