For Kate Proudy, the best cocktails tell a specific story, right down to their name and garnish. As Valentine’s Day started to roll around, Proudy—the head bartender at the Dewberry hotel in Charleston, South Carolina—began to wonder how she could connect locally filmed movies to her cocktail practice. Then she realized her bar was only two blocks away from the American Theater, the iconic first date spot for Ally (Rachel McAdams) and Noah (Ryan Gosling) in 2004’s The Notebook. “Everyone remembers the first time they watched that movie,” she says.
Proudy, a self-proclaimed history nerd, didn’t skimp on the research for her layered recipe. “I love to go back through the decades and find the most popular cocktail and why it was popular,” she says. Nicholas Sparks’s love story takes place in the forties, when Between the Sheets, a rum and cognac–based drink, was a crowd favorite. According to Proudy, “that was the time for catchy phrases. The ‘bee’s knees’ and ‘cat’s pajamas’ were being used a lot.” Her drink, Between the Streets, plays off the classic while nodding to The Notebook’s filming locations dotted along the Charleston streets, especially the downtown intersection where the two lovers lie down on the road beneath the traffic lights.
Proudy channeled Charleston spirit right down to the ingredients. She collaborated with some of her favorite small vendors in town, pouring together local coconut almond syrup from Daysie and coconut rum from Beyond Distilling in North Charleston. “I wanted [the recipe] to be able to continue on the journey of going through Charleston,” she says. Combined with the almond and coconut, the cognac adds a satisfying complexity: “Tropical drinks can get one-toned. Between the Streets isn’t too island-y, but a balanced cocktail at the end of the day.”
And even her garnish—a folded cardstock note, clipped onto the rim with a tiny clothespin—plays an interactive role. Painted with espresso and burned at the edges, the worn-looking piece of paper pulls out caramel and coffee aromas, she says. When making the recipe at home, you can write whatever you’d like on the paper (or skip it if you must, but where’s the fun in that?), but Proudy scrawls lines straight from The Notebook. One of her favorites? The last one spoken between the two lovers: I’ll be seeing you.