Cheers

Cheers April/May 2018

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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www.cheersonline.com 51 April/May 2018 • cocktails don't sell, spoilage can be a problem. At Temple Bar, she tests out drinks as chalkboard specials before putting them on the menu. "We try to keep specialty cocktails in the $9 to $12 range," says Harvey. "So if the specialty ingredient is on the pricier side, I'll pair it with some value-driven spirits." Sourcing can be yet another hurdle, as operators can't just pick up the phone to order many of these esoteric products from their broadline distributor or usual wholesaler. At Temple Bar sourcing depends on the ingredient, explains Harvey. "We have some great specialty providers, so it's not too hard to fi nd obscure things," she notes. "Sometimes, I'll just be doing my normal grocery shopping and stumble upon something that catches my eye." Grossbard at The Drawing Board will "personally forage for many of the herbs or grow them in someone's garden." She also works with local purveyors for specialized ingredients, such as bee pollen or organic dried herbs. Pitchfork Pretty sources from local farms that practice sustainable farming techniques and grow plants in ideal soil compositions, says Nolen. "We try to do this as far as it is cost-effective." DOCTORING UP THE COMPONENTS These therapeutic elements are generally not packaged and ready to use, so prepping many of these ingredients can be labor-intensive, says Nolen. The raw ingredients, roots, bark, fl owers, etc., often need to be trimmed and washed then altered into a useable form. And since they may taste odd or downright unpleasant, mixologists have to fi gure out ways to mask or incorporate them into tasty cocktails. "The healthiest, most nutritious parts of many plants are not the portion that tastes the best," observes Walter at Loa. Indeed, he makes the point that although the sassafras tree was used as a tonic and as a fl avoring in root beer, a chemical found naturally in the plant can cause liver damage and cancer. The takeaway: Just because an ingredient is natural doesn't mean that it's naturally safe to use in every application. Research is important. "As for preparation, again it depends on the ingredients," says Harvey. "Some need to be juiced, some muddled, and other ingredients I make into an infusion or syrup." For her part, Grossbard prepares all the tonics, elixirs, tinctures, shrubs, etc. for her cocktails in The Drawing Board's kitchen. "I create cocktails coming from an herbalist's lens," she says, and drawing on 15 years of experience behind the stick. "I start with the medicinal benefi ts fi rst, consider what elements partner well together in health and wellness terms and then bring the spirits into play and what's seasonally exciting." Centeno fi nds that the best way to use wholesome ingredients in cocktails is to make "teas" and then infuse those into spirits. "I never create a cocktail thinking, 'I want this to be a healthy cocktail, so I am going to use this ingredient,'" he says. "If I add a specifi c ingredient, I am using it because of the fl avor, texture or aroma it offers. If I can fi nd an ingredient that also falls in the category of healthy-ish, it's an added bonus." PALATE AND PALETTE Some bartenders are using these healthful compounds to move beyond wellness and taste into color, enhancing cocktails' palette as well as the appeal to customers' palates. "We want these drinks to be visually appealing and beautiful in color with a healthy aspect," says Kuehner. He has been experimenting with butterfl y pea fl ower, blue-green spirulina, turmeric, activated charcoal and red beets—wholesome stuff that can add vibrant colors to what's in the glass. Two colorful examples from Madison On Park's menu include the Blue Dream Mimosa, made with blue-green algae, Champagne, organic lemon juice, alkaline water, Fuji apple and ginger; and the Black Magic Mimosa—Champagne, celery, organic lemon juice, apple, alkaline water, blood orange juice, agave nectar and activated charcoal. Both are priced at $8. "These drinks are one of a kind, and are not only revolutionizing cocktails but also helping expand the popularity of super foods and how they can be combined to produce an unusual color for a healthy and fun cocktail," Kuehner says. Many operators change their cocktail menus with the season, and springtime in particular brings fresh opportunities for healthy fare. Centeno is looking forward to seeing what pops up at the farmer's market as the weather warms. As nettles begin popping up in the spring, Grossbard is planning a riff on the Pimm's Cup cocktail for The Drawing Board. Called Pimm's Stardust, it will include wild nettles, horsetail, red clover buds, spring strawberries and wild radish pods. "Most likely, it will incorporate a ginger kefi r sparkling probiotic that we make in-house," she adds. "Using veggies and herbs gives the cocktail a fresh and herbaceous aspect that can't be found in a bottle," notes Centeno. "The challenge is sourcing the freshest possible ingredients. Your cocktail is only as strong as its weakest ingredient." Thomas Henry Strenk is a Brooklyn-based writer specializing in all things drinkable. Seamstress's This Feels Good, with dill-infused St. Germain, Bombay Sapphire gin, green Chartreuse, honey syrup, lime juice, cucumber slices and arugula leaves.

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