Pub to host Roaring 20s jazz night

Evening will celebrate Nat King Cole’s 100th birthday with music professor’s performance, special menu



Owner Tawny Szumlas goes over the special menu of Nat King Cole-themed prohibition era drinks on Tuesday at Rico’s Pub.

ALANA LACKNER, Evergreen managing editor

This weekend, Rico’s Pub will host people in 1920s wear and serve prohibition-era drinks.

Starting at 9 p.m. tomorrow, “A Night of Nat King Cole” will celebrate Nat King Cole’s 100th birthday and Jazz Appreciation Month.

Rico’s Owner Tawny Szumlas said the idea for the celebration sparked a few months ago when Horace Alexander Young, clinical associate professor in the WSU School of Music, approached her.

“He wanted to do something special for the Nat King Cole birthday,” she said. “It was actually a couple weeks ago, but he was already set to play this weekend so he and I started brainstorming about things we could do.”

It was clear that they would play Nat King Cole songs, Szumlas said, but they wanted to do more. They decided that since Cole’s birth year, 1919, marked the beginning of the prohibition era, they would make prohibition-era drinks. They went online and started looking for cocktails that don’t have fruit juices and were made with more natural ingredients.

The “Unforgettable” is one of many Nat King Cole and prohibition era inspired drinks that will be served at the Night of Nat King Cole event.

“We went through, we tasted them, and we made sure we picked out the ones we really liked,” Szumlas said. “They’re all pretty much straight alcohol drinks so they’re pretty—” Her eyes widened and she waved her hand — “yeah.”

The drinks on the special menu all have Nat King Cole-themed names, she said.

Some of the drinks and titles they came up with include a white lady cocktail. Szumlas said this title was easy, and they decided on “Mona Lisa.” There’s also a grasshopper titled “Nature Boy,” since grasshoppers live in nature, she said.

“We had so much fun, and my crew’s always down to taste free drinks,” she said. “You know, ‘Here try this, here try this’ and nobody in my crew was like ‘Oh no, I couldn’t possibly.’ ”

This is not just a celebration of Nat King Cole, but also of the era, Szumlas said. They want people to be able to come dressed up if they want to.

“I’m personally going to be wearing a mob boss suit and a couple of my girls are getting flapper dresses,” Szumlas said. “We’re just inviting everybody to come down and have a good time, dress up if they want — we really just want to celebrate jazz history and Nat King Cole and then [Young] as well because he’s an amazing musician.”

Rico’s Public House is located at 200 E. Main Street in Pullman.