“It’s very much under-promise and over-deliver.”
Early in the summer, Chickadee co-owner Ted Kilpatrick found himself with a significant excess of patio. Like other restaurants affected by social distancing rules, Chickadee had applied for expanded patio space and received it—to the tune of 5,000 square feet.
“It didn’t really make practical sense for us to try to serve that as a full-service restaurant, because it’s a massive amount of space,” Kilpatrick said.
A small amount of the allotment was used to grow the Mediterranean-inspired restaurant’s existing patio. Then Kilpatrick learned that a shipping container sitting on his new territory—which had previously been used to serve food truck-style lunches to office workers at the Innovation and Design Building—was Chickadee’s for the taking.
“We talked to our landlords, and they said they would be happy for us to do a pop-up cocktail bar,” he said.
But this new venture wouldn’t be an extension of Chickadee’s existing bar program, which Kilpatrick describes as “culinarily driven specialty cocktails.” The pop-up, dubbed Mayday! in cheeky reference to Chickadee’s location within the Boston Marine Industrial Park and “the times we’re living in right now,” would focus on frozen and tropical-style drinks.
The theme may have Chickadee’s bar staff reaching for floral-print shirts and blenders, but their approach to craft remains as serious as ever.
“I think it’s very much under-promise and over-deliver,” Kilpatrick added. “Yes, this is a piña colada, but it’s not the piña colada you get at Chili’s. It’s the piña colada we make.”
Specifically, Mayday!’s Over-Proof Piña Colada stands apart by relying on freshly squeezed pineapple juice, house coconut syrup, and a blend of Barbados and overproof rums. Its strawberry daiquiri draws its fruity flavors not from a saccharine mix, but a strawberry-infused Barbados rum and a house-made strawberry demerara syrup. If you can’t decide between the two, Mayday! will layer them to produce the oft-forgotten miami vice.
Aside from the blended business, the eight-drink menu also includes three margaritas (classic, mango, and jalapeño-pineapple), and what Kilpatrick describes as more “esoteric” yet “super crushable” fare: the Swamp Water with green Chartreuse, cachaça, pineapple, and lime juice; and Paddleboarding the Rio Grande, featuring mezcal, Suze, and blue curaçao.
All of Mayday!’s cocktails will be served in biodegradable plastic cups and can be ordered through a walk-up window shielded by plexiglass. Drinkers can enjoy them on the patio, or have their drinks made to go or even delivered, thanks to the Commonwealth’s recent passage of a bill allowing takeout cocktails.
While Mayday! isn’t serving food of its own, Kilpatrick sees a synergy between it and Chickadee’s more casual takeout options, including a lobster roll special with preserved lemon crème fraiche on a house-made brioche bun, and fried chicken served with spiced cheddar biscuits, honey butter, and pepper jelly.
“The letter of the law is that we have to have food available, which we absolutely do in the form of to-go food from Chickadee,” Kilpatrick said. “The hope is that it also drives some people who pick up food to have cocktails on the promenade where there’s Adirondack chairs and picnic tables, which they can lay claim to and have themselves an evening.”
One feature of Mayday! has nothing to do with drinks and everything to do with feeling. A number of “beach scene tapestries” hang inside the shipping container-turned-cocktail dispensary to give it the appearance of a swim-up bar, minus the water.
“We’re really trying to give people a festive end of summer, [in] what’s otherwise been kind of a not-great one,” Kilpatrick said.
Mayday! will be open through Labor Day, aiming to improve the waning days of summer 2020 one miami vice at a time.