Four Thieves shakes up holiday flavors at second pop-up

Anthony Dominic, Crave

They had me at "pop-up speakeasy." I've been intrigued by the concept behind Four Thieves Thirst Parlour since first learning about the project back in August. In short, Sycamore bartender Annie Williams and partner Luke Pierce are transforming local spaces into chichi, one-night cocktail bars. You can almost always expect classics with a twist at a Four Thieves event, Williams says, but "classic" will mean more than traditional drink templates.

Take, for example, the decidedly Yuletide Shrub & Bubbles-the first drink served at Sunday's Holiday Cocktail Tasting at Land-Grant Brewing in Franklinton-in which Williams' own cherry vanilla shrub was mixed with apricot liqueur, lemon juice and topped with Champagne and a mint sprig. Or the Thievin' Jerry, a riff on the Tom and Jerry, made with dark rum, pear liqueur, Cognac, cardamom vanilla bean milk and an egg-based batter. The night's flavors were fun, indulgent and tapped into shared sensory memories we associate with winter holidays.

While Four Thieves' first pop-up in October featured an a la carte menu (think Manhattan flights and mix-and-match G&Ts), Sunday's event was based on a prix-fixe list of five drinks with assorted snacks, like cheese, pickles, dark chocolate and cookies made by Williams' mom. Williams and Pierce played hosts while familiar faces from local bars and restaurants provided swift table service. A water station, located by the taproom bar, was also appreciated.

I had the right idea, however, in showing up with a full stomach. The snacks are, as advertised, only snacks, and downing five cocktails over the course of two hours is fun, but can be quite a commitment. This isn't lost on Williams, though, who varies spirits and portion sizes from cocktail to cocktail.

My favorite sip of the night was the inventive Nocino Flip, a twist on a classic egg flip batched with Watershed Distillery's brand-new Nocino walnut liqueur, Oloroso sherry and sweet potato syrup. The liqueur shined in the end product-a velvety, slightly sweet cocktail with subtle toffee and vanilla notes.

Part of the fun was also in enjoying the transformed taproom. Williams and Pierce gussied up Land-Grant's industrial front room with holiday decor, even displaying a digital fireplace on the taproom's TVs, an appreciated dose of tongue and cheek. I hope to see Four Thieves take even more ownership of future event spaces.

Seats for both pop-ups to date have sold quickly, so keep an eye on the Four Thieves' website for their next announcement. Pop-up tickets run about $30 to $40 per person.