When Mike Treffehn, head bartender of The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. (112 S. 18th St.), learned his coworker Catherine Manning had never seen Face/Off, he did what any action-cinema-fixated cocktail professional would do: organize an entire evening themed around the 1997 classic.
The bombastic blockbuster, considered by many to be Hong Kong director John Woo’s most preposterous greatest American work, is the story of an FBI agent (John Travolta) and a psychotic terrorist (Nicolas Cage) who swap bodies and then shoot and scream at each other for more than 120 minutes. Replete with billowing man-dusters, teenage girls with butterfly knives, several types of standoffs and dialogue that will ruin your relationship with fruit, it’s a movie with no shortage of creativity-stoking elements.
To execute Treffehn’s plan, though, Manning had to see the film first.
“She told me that she had to stop watching it four separate times because of how ridiculous it was,” he said.
Once they were on the same page, the bartenders began building their $11-a-pop Face/Off cocktail list, which The Franklin will offer from open to close this Sunday, Jan. 26, in addition to the regular menu. “It’s definitely a comical movie with all sorts of action. There’s an absurdity to the characters that I think lends itself easily to letting your hair down,” explained Treffehn.
That includes “I Am Sean Archer,” with rye whiskey that speaks to the earnest nature of Travolta’s cop character, garnished with a strawberry that will “hopefully have dimples like John Travolta.” The drink named after Cage’s sadistic Castor Troy, meanwhile, has a 151-proof rum and amaro base - if you assume it’s nothing but sweet, that’s curtains for you. The “Golden Pistols,” referencing the ostentatious sidearms Troy wields throughout the movie, is a drink served in two separate parts.
Mobile operation Pitruco Pizza will pull up outside the bar to provide food for the evening - some of its usual menu items, plus a special option that’ll involve the owners “surgically removing” the face of a margherita and attaching it to murgh makhani, or Indian butter chicken.
“We’re using it as a chance to switch up the environment a little bit, bring some new people in and have fun with it,” said Treffehn, whose last movie night, themed around Top Gun, was a success. (Look for Saturday Night Fever and True Lies events in the future.) The Franklin doesn’t have a television, so Face/Off itself won’t be playing on loop, but Treffehn promises that he and his staff will be “trying to live the movie” throughout the evening.
No word on how many white doves will be in attendance.
Face/Off Menu (all cocktails $11)
I Am Sean Archer: Old Overholt Rye, Noilly Pratt Vermouth, Cinnamon syrup, lemon and pineapple juices. Served on crushed ice.
I Am Castor Troy: Lemonhart 151 Rum, Cardamaro, Fernet Branca, Swedish Punsch. Served tall with soda.
I Could Eat a Peach For Hours: Old Granddad Bonded Bourbon, Dolin Blanc Vermouth, Creme de Peche, honey, lime juice, angostura bitters. Served up.
Golden Pistols: Sombra Mezcal, Pineau de Charentes, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao; Plymouth Gin, Campari, Cane syrup, Lime juice. A cocktail served in two parts.
Doves At a Firefight: Byrrh, Black Grouse Scotch, Poire William eau de vie, Peychaud's bitters, long hot tincture. Served up.
Face Palm: A shot and a beer.