GREEN Don't go to Chop & Swizzle, a new retro-cocktail nightspot, and order a Bud Lite and a shot of Fireball, or a Jack & Coke.

It's not a snob thing. It's just not what they do.

As co-owner and bartender Daniel Allyn explained it, "You wouldn't go to a Mexican restaurant and order chicken parmesan."

At Chop and Swizzle, which opened in mid-January at 3700 Massillon Road, craft cocktails are serious business. "What we do here, we have a passion for," he said. (There's also an ambitious food menu; see accompanying story.)

Allyn likes to describe his new place — which is dark and sleek and has a kind of '60s bachelor's-den vibe to it — as a "Tik-easy," referring to its dual cocktail focus.

There are deluxe versions of classic "speakeasy" cocktails originated in the early 1900s — Manhattan, Old-Fashioned, martini, sidecar, gimlet, sour.

But Allyn's heart clearly lies with the Polynesian-themed drinks — Zombie, Painkiller, Fog Cutter, Mai Tai — invented in the '40s and '50s at legendary Los Angeles tiki bars like Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic's.

Mostly rum-based, these Tiki drinks "have eight to 10 ingredients per cocktail and very elaborate garnishes," Allyn said. When they were invented, "the object was to put in as much liquor as possible."

While custom cocktails at Chop & Swizzle run $10 to $13, "you're getting five ounces of booze in one glass and also all-handcrafted ingredients," he said. There also is entertainment value in watching such concoctions be created.

Here's a sample from the Chop & Swizzle menu:

• Flaming Bourbon Sour, with bourbon, lemon juice, blood orange bitters, caramelized sugar cube, egg white foam.

• Zombie, with gold rum, 151 rum, lime, grapefruit and pomegranate juices, passion fruit puree, cinnamon, apricot, ginger, bitters, absinthe.

• Black Rose, with gin, elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, muddled luxardo cherries, sparkling wine.

• Fog Cutter, gin, brandy, rum, lemon and orange juices, house-made orgeat (almond syrup).

Allyn is justly proud of Chop & Swizzle's house-made pecan bourbon, available in smoke-infused shots. "We take Evan Williams, which is a single-barrel bourbon, infuse it with Chef Dick's butter toffee and toasted almonds and pecans and let that marinate for two weeks," he said. 

Click here to watch Daniel Allyn create a smoked pecan bourbon shot.

For beer fans, Chop & Swizzle stocks 10 craft beers in bottles and cans with two more on tap, including beers from Royal Docks in Jackson Township and Brick and Barrel in Cleveland.

Enamored with "the rich history of cocktails," Allyn fell in love with Polynesian-style drinks when he helped to open the Cleveland nightspot, Porco Lounge & Tiki Room, in 2013. 

In March 2016, Allyn opened the first Chop & Swizzle in a former firehouse at 60 S. Maple St. in Akron and soon discovered a clientele for elaborately crafted cocktails. "What I've found is that people middle-age and up are pretty much where we're sitting, but there's been a surge in younger people, 23 to 30, who are already cultured in what we're doing," he said. "Most of our clientele in Akron is female, I'd say three to one, then couples and educated drinkers."

During happy hour, from 4 to 6 p.m. daily, cocktails are $2 off.

Don't miss the cuisine that complements the drinks at Chop & Swizzle.


Check out the places where Dan's reviewed restaurants:


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