Food & Drink

Poor Red’s on top again when it comes to pouring Italian liqueur for signature drink

Bartender Hank Falconer mixes a Golden Cadillac at Poor Red’s bar in El Dorado. Galliano is a key ingredient in the drink, which was invented at the bar in 1952.
Bartender Hank Falconer mixes a Golden Cadillac at Poor Red’s bar in El Dorado. Galliano is a key ingredient in the drink, which was invented at the bar in 1952. Sacramento Bee file photo

Poor Red’s Bar B-Q has reclaimed the title of biggest customer of Galliano liqueur on the planet.

The little restaurant and bar in the foothill town of El Dorado was out of commission for a couple of years when former owners were sentenced to jail time in connection with felony counts of state tax evasion and insurance fraud.

The new owners have expanded the restaurant with a courtyard and once more began selling Poor Red’s signature ribs. While customers wait for a table, they typically stand or sit at the bar drinking Golden Cadillacs.

The origin of the drink dates to 1952, when it is said that a couple pulled up in a new gold-colored Cadillac and asked bartender Frank Klein to create a special cocktail to match the color of their car.

Klein cooked up the Golden Cadillac, which is a blend of golden Galliano, white creme de cacao and cream.

Poor Red’s through the years sold so many Golden Cadillacs that Lucas Bols distillers recognized it as North America’s biggest customer for the Italian herbed liqueur. With the reopening of the roadhouse last April, the Golden Cadillacs began to flow again.

A representative from Galliano Liqueur is scheduled to visit Poor Red’s in February to present the restaurant with a plaque to commemorate the reclaiming of the title of being the largest consumer of the liqueur.

“There really wasn’t a one definite leader while Poor Red’s was closed – it varied from month to month,” said Tanya Cohn, brand manager for Galliano in New York City. “Some establishments that stood out – Sycamore Den bar in San Diego, Herbs & Rye in Las Vegas, Connaught Bar in London did go through a lot of Galliano cocktails, but no one came close to our current champion.”

Poor Red’s has gone through more than 200 cases of the liqueur since reopening – 2,400 bottles. “Poor Red’s was recognized as the world leader in Galliano consumption – Galliano world champion,” Cohn said.

The average time a bottle goes from opening to empty at Poor Red’s is about 90 minutes. It is estimated that since reopening, bartenders have mixed 31,000 Golden Cadillacs.

“That’s how quickly they go through it,” manager Steve Anderly said.

Poor Red’s was a former Wells Fargo way station that morphed into Kelly’s Bar in 1927. According to legend, in 1945 a guy nicknamed Poor Red won it in a dice game and ran it as a roadhouse with help from his wife and bookkeeper. Ownership changed over the decades, until it closed in 2014.

Mike Hountalas and brothers Jeff and Mike Genovese partnered to resurrect the joint, expanding, upgrading and refining it for reopening.

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews

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