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Drink as Thieves

If the idea of an edible Manhattan or a spherified libation speaks to you, then so will pop-up speakeasy concept Four Thieves Thirst Parlour.

Granted, it will also speak to you if you have no idea what spherification is and just enjoy a well-made drink.

Launched in October 2014, Four Thieves Thirst Parlour is taking the best ingredients and the most innovative bartending techniques to bi-monthly popups around Columbus.

Bartender Annie Williams (The Sycamore) and boyfriend Luke Pierce (Land-Grant Brewing Company) partnered on the project after Pierce, who had unsuccessfully tried previous pop-ups in Houston, realized what a talented mixologist Williams was.

“The beauty of a pop-up is it’s a one-and-done menu,” Williams said. “You don’t have to stress about how is every bartender who works at this bar going to execute it the same way. How do you stock for it, how do you prep for it. You get to do the crazy awesome stuff and you don’t have to worry about doing it tomorrow.”

At the first popup, held October 26 at The Kitchen in German Village, attendees got to sample any two drinks from a menu of eight.

“We’re changing the structure of each pop-up, partially to keep it fresh and also just to keep trying new things because we’re still molding the concept,” Williams said. “Trying all sorts of new things, menu design and format is really allowing us to remain flexible and figure out what’s working and what’s not.”

The format, while giving attendees choice, made the bartending more difficult and left little time for Williams to chat with guests, so for their second event, they switched to a fixed tasting menu instead of ala carte ordering. The second pop-up in December, which took place at Land-Grant Brewing, included holiday theme cocktails and added facetime with Williams explaining her cocktail creations to attendees.

“I loved being able to do that because it’s such an intimate process, and you put so much into it behind the scenes,” Williams said. “Sure, there’s the flare of shaking a drink, but you don’t get to say ‘why did I decide sweet potato and walnut’ or ‘why are we going for pear and coriander.’”

A chef will be added to the mix for the third Four Thieves pop-up on March 28 at The Commissary, Catie Randazzo from the Challah Food Truck. This time around, the event will be a brunch, four courses with an amuse-bouche.

“We wanted to reinvent brunch cocktails, and do something aside from the tired bloody mary and mimosa that everyone knows and loves,” Pierce said.

For some of the courses the cocktail inspiration came from the food and for some the food was inspired by the cocktail,” Williams added. “It’s a totally different process bouncing off another creative individual.”

Among the featured brunch cocktails will be 1-2 bubbly-based drinks—“I’m a firm believer that champagne makes everything better,” Williams said—a lighter twist on a bloody mary—because “you don’t want to get full off your drink”—and a coffee-banana-rum creation.

“My thing with my drinks is that, after I drink it, if I’m like, ‘Hmm, that’s weird but good’ I’m pretty satisfied with that,” Williams said.” “‘Weird but good’ is my target sweet spot.”

The food for the brunch seems aligned with “weird but good,” with two of the courses slated to be a dish with charred asparagus, crème fraîche, fried capers, botargo and balsamic; and a dessert comprising spicy chicken and burnt waffle ice cream dish drizzled with serrano honey.

The duo dream of developing the Four Thieves brand into something grander down the line whether that’s a brick-and-mortar bar, a branded line of cocktails and mixers, or even a community cocktail lab.

In the meantime, they will keep innovating the cocktail culture in Columbus, one pop-up at a time. 

Tickets for the upcoming events are available at fourthievesthirstparlour.com.

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Cheryl is way too into craft beer, sci-fi and board games. In addition to writing for (614), she is the editor of Columbus’ online source for booze news, DrinkUpColumbus.com. Cheryl has been voted one of the top three bloggers in Columbus by the readers of (614) Magazine for the past four years. (Despite writing for the magazine, she swears she did not rig the vote.)