Pig Blood, Avocados, Irish Moss: The Strange Ingredients of Summer’s Tastiest Cocktails
Master of the craft at Raven & Rose. (Photo: Courtesy Raven & Rose)
Think bartenders have it easy? Aside from mastering Cocktail-worthy tricks, a flirty smile and heavy hand aren’t all that’s going to keep customers coming back. Long hours of creative genius are what’s setting the bar for bars these days — and everybody is stepping up their game.
“The great cocktail renaissance of the past ten years has done much to educate the average guest on classics,” explains bartender Kevin Denton of gastro heavyweights Alder and WD-50 in New York City. “There are greater expectations to expand the repertoire — [and the] concoctions have to taste good, because we are in the business of delicious.”
What that means are increasingly unexpected, sometimes bizarre ingredients in exciting combinations.
“You will only buy a pastrami and rye cocktail once if it is a novelty that isn’t tasty,” he continues. Yep, you heard that right. Denton cheekily reimagined that Jewish-deli staple on a recent seasonal menu at Alder. Now his latest calls for Myrica Gale. (Don’t feel foolish. We had no clue what it was before publishing this thing either.)
Yahoo Travel sought out the nation’s top mixology talent to see what weird-yet-wonderful ingredients were popping up on menu this summer. The results ran a gamut from snap peas to ice made out of meat to an extract of Irish moss. Down in one, everyone!
Odd Ingredient: Green Strawberry Pickling Liquid
The Drink: Serge’s Morning Girl
The Bar: The Libertine in Clayton, MO
Pickling local summer fruits is just one fantastic way the bar staff at the acclaimed Libertine keeps St. Louis drinkers wowed. Named for Serge Gainsbourg, a French lyricist and purported ladies man, the Serge’s Morning Girl cocktail is based with Quivira Sauvignon Blanc, grapefruit juice, Aperol and then hit with a quarter-ounce of pickling brine. Shaken and double strained into a coupe glass —with a pickled unripened strawberry on the rim — it’s tart, refreshing, and has a remarkable bright sweetness. Drinking one makes you wonder why we can’t get pickled berries on everything.
Serge’s Morning Girl cocktail (Photo: Libertine)
Odd Ingredient: Meat Ice Cubes
The Drink: The Vegan Sacrifice
The Bar: Range in Washington, D.C.
While Raven & Rose is serving up moss extract for the vegans in town, Range is going the other direction and getting downright carnivorous in their cocktails, with a sprinkle of added snark in the name. Beverage director Dane Nakamura created the Vegan Sacrifice with Scotch, ginger, cayenne, and homemade meat ice. Yep. Meat ice.