Down to Earth
To add savory complexity to cocktails, bartenders are increasingly using produce-infused juices, syrups, and spirits. Ahead, six new ways to drink your vegetables.
TRY IT AT HOME
The “Beet at Joe’s” Cocktail, Ames Street Deli
1 ½ oz. reposado tequila (such as Milagro)
¾ oz. fresh raw beet juice
½ oz. Zucca
¼ oz. yellow Chartreuse
⅛ oz. absinthe (such as Kübler), to rinse the glass
1 slice orange
Dash of Fee Brothers barrel-aged bitters
Combine ingredients in a large glass, stir with ice, and strain into a glass that’s been rinsed with absinthe. Float half an orange wheel to garnish. —Recipe courtesy of Sam Treadway
DO YOU LIKE…MEZCAL?
Try: Ancho Reyes
Made from ancho chilies, this Mexican liqueur lacks the leathery smoke of mezcal but packs a similar savory punch. The chilies provide a “great, high-quality slow burn,” says Patrick Gaggiano, the bar manager at Viale, in Central Square. It’s a creeping, sweet-spicy heat that’s bold, but not overwhelming. Not sure if it’s for you? Gaggiano suggests trying it first in a classic daiquiri.
DO YOU LIKE…AQUAVIT?
A heady mix of caraway, fennel, and cumin, this liqueur falls into the “a little goes a long way” category. At Ames Street Deli, in Kendall Square, bar manager Sam Treadway spritzes Kummel atop a Moscow Mule variation that’s spiked with celery bitters and dry vermouth. “You smell this weird cumin flavor from the Kummel, but then the sip is a dry, crisp ginger and lime,” Treadway says.
DO YOU LIKE…AMARI?
If your after-dinner drink tends to veer bittersweet, pass over the Fernet Branca in favor of this rhubarb-based digestíf. “We are still under the umbrella of dark and bitter and funky, but there’s some other stuff going on that makes it a little more accessible,” says Sean Sullivan, bar manager at Taberna de Haro’s Straight Law. “It has that earthy vegetal stuff from rhubarb root, but it’s a little softer.”
DO YOU LIKE…EVERYTHING?
The Irish answer to moonshine, Poitín (pwa-teen) was one of the first spirits distilled in Ireland, predating even whiskey. Due to its strength, the potato-, beet-, or malted barley–based beverage was banned in Ireland for centuries and only just landed here. “It’s like a vodka, but I think it drinks a little more like a white whiskey,” says Harvest bar manager Dani Willcutt, who uses a sugar beet–based version from Glendalough.
OR, TRY THIS
To add vegetal notes to cocktails without sacrificing sweetness, bartenders have been turning to root-veggie-based syrups. At Bondir Concord, barman Alex Howell creates his own version with carrots for his scotch-, Cynar-, and lemon-based “Curran Sour.” Want to try your own? Howell suggests combining equal parts carrot juice and granulated white sugar (by weight) in a saucepan, cooking over low heat until the sugar is dissolved, and then straining it (it’ll keep in the fridge).