Spiced-Up Spirits: Introducing the Exotic Cocktails at Sarma
When Island Creek Oyster Bar alum Vikram Hegde came aboard as bar manager at the new Somerville meze bar Sarma, he was given free rein over a creative barman’s gold mine: the expansive spice selection at Sarma’s big sister, Oleana, which has never served the hard stuff because its license is for only beer and wine.
Hegde’s experimentation has paid off: Combining Oleana’s spice collection with Sarma’s full liquor license has yielded cocktails enhanced with exotic components like mellow-hot Aleppo pepper flakes, citrusy sumac, and rich, tart pomegranate molasses. “It’s opened my eyes to a lot of flavor profiles,” he says.
One particularly exciting and challenging ingredient Hegde encountered in the development process was mastic, the resin from a Mediterranean shrub, which is widely used in Turkish and Greek desserts and libations. “It tastes like anise seed, celery, white pepper, and a little bit of raw carrot,” Hegde says of the complex yet subtly sweet substance. You’ll find it in the Hippodrome, a take on the mint julep that blends mastic syrup with rhum agricole, lime juice, and sage.