Poolside Cocktail from Laura Newman of Queen’s Park

Looking for the perfect cocktail for entertaining on a sultry summer evening? Top bartender Laura Newman has you covered with her “postmodern tiki” recipe for the Sea Witch
Laura Newman. Photo via Queen's Park
Laura Newman, owner of Queen's Park in Birmingham, Alabama

During the Prohibition era, the Queen’s Park Hotel in Port of Spain, Trinidad, thrived as Americans flocked to the Caribbean for boozy island getaways. Today, if you are in Birmingham, Alabama, you only have to head downtown to Queen’s Park for a cocktail experience that captures the hotel’s spirit. (The bar is named not after the bygone hotel itself, but rather for a cocktail the hotel served called the Queen’s Park Swizzle.)

Naturally, Queen’s Park co-founder Laura Newman came to mind when we were looking for the perfect cocktail for entertaining on a sultry summer evening. A Brooklyn native, she won the United States Bartenders Guild World Class US 2018 competition and was a top-four finalist globally in Berlin, so her recipe is a must-try.

“The cocktail I’ve made here, the Sea Witch, is a crowd-pleaser that’s easy to make at home,” Laura says. “While working as the associate beverage director at Mother of Pearl in Manhattan, I worked to include non-rum cocktails on our ‘postmodern tiki’ menu, and this is in that same vein. The base of Tito’s Vodka lengthens and extends the strong flavors present in the rest of the drink, making them work better together.”

She also gave us her simple recipe for Passionfruit Syrup. Though it’s readily available in specialty stores and online, Newman says the homemade version is “less expensive and, in my opinion, tastes better.”

Sea Witch Cocktail by Laura Newman of Queen's Park in Birmingham
Sea Witch

Sea Witch

  • 1.5 ounce Tito’s Vodka
  • 0.5 ounce Licor 43
  • 0.25 ounce Kahlúa or other coffee liqueur
  • 0.5 ounce passionfruit syrup (recipe below)
  • 0.5 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters

1 | Combine ingredients in a shaker tin with ice (see tip).

2 | Give everything a quick shake and dump (no need to strain) into a cocktail glass.

3 | Garnish with coffee beans, edible or silk flowers, paper straws, and any other tiki accoutrements you’d like.

Expert Tip: “Ice from your home ice-maker works fine, but if you want a real-deal tiki cocktail, I recommend going to Sonic (the fast food chain), where a 5-pound bag of ice is under $3.”—Laura Newman

Passionfruit Syrup

  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup Welch’s passionfruit juice
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon citric acid (optional but recommended)

1 | Combine sugar and passionfruit juice in a pot over medium-low heat, and stir until sugar dissolves completely.

2 | Remove from heat, and add citric acid; stir well to dissolve. Let cool.

3 | Store covered in the refrigerator.

By Terri Robertson | Recipes and photography courtesy of Laura Newman and Queen’s Park

If you are visiting Birmingham, in addition to Queen’s Park, check out interior designer Tammy Connor’s hometown favorites. Or, get a taste of the city at home with James Beard Award-winning chef Frank Stitt’s menu for a Summer Repast a the Farm.

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