Monday, December 5, 2011

Rattle & Hum

Where does a good drink come from? An obvious answer would consist merely of a list of ingredients. While we take pleasure and pride in sourcing small-batch liquors and local fruit to create our cocktails at Restaurant Eugene, each drink is equally a mix of ideas, themes, and sensuous evocations as it is well-stirred potables. Just as Proust’s madeleine can hardly be reduced to flour and sugar, the cocktails that find their way on to our list spring from the memories and imaginations of our barkeeps.

Bartenders Gabe Bowen and Michael Searles at Restaurant Eugene Bar.

In that enchanted and pensive time between late autumn and winter, rainy skies and frosty nights conjure desires for spice and warmth. Those were the elements that bar manager Michael Searles had in mind when he began to compose the Resurrection Fern. This homage to the hot toddy calls forth a scene Searles describes as those precious walks through the woods just before it’s too cold for a stroll, when fungal, ginger aromas hang in the air.

The drink begins with hum, a botanical rhum that will make you sing. The creation of renowned mixologists Adam Seger and Joe McCanta, this inspired spirit contains fair-trade hibiscus, ginger root, green cardamom, and kaffir lime. Using hum as his base, Searles riffs on Georgia's mountains and forest with Applejack, Ellijay Galas, a pinch of wood fennel, and brewed English Breakfast.  To allay any concern that the tea might tip the drink on the scale of tannins, he decided to add a little butter – fans of hot buttered rum will approve of this move.  Once all of these elements are stirred and smooth, he garnishes with a swath of lemon peel, a tiny bouquet of wood sorrel tucked in the middle. On these long cold nights ahead, let us keep you warm – we promise to revive your mind, body and soul with the Resurrection Fern.

Beets Me

It was only a matter of time before the Restaurant Eugene barkeeps would shake up a liquid allusion to Tom Robbins’ classic novel, Jitterbug Perfume.  In the book, the protagonists travel through time and space in a quest for immortality and the perfect fragrance.  Said fragrance is designed to mask the musk of a stinky goat, the demi-god, Pan.  Restaurant Eugene's K23 – the technical name of the book's perfume – vies for olfactory attention with goat cheese.

Like a good jazz combo that flies on brass and anchors on bass, good perfumes consist equally of bright floral notes and warm earth tones. If this also sounds like the mix of a distinctive, delightful drink, that’s exactly what Gabe Bowen was thinking when he developed the K23. He knew he wanted to make a beet cocktail, so the challenge became figuring out what other elements would be necessary for an alluring potion, especially one that has to stand up to pungent cheese.

Roasted, muddled beets take a dip in an ounce of Bulleit bourbon; a splash of orange juice lends acidity and evokes orange-glazed beets; a dash of smoked-onion sorghum gives piquant sweetness; Strega, a classic Italian liqeur, hints at caraway and toasted fennel.  All are shaken and strained into a flute with an orange peel, then topped with prosecco.  Voila!  This is the K23, a drink that’ll make you want to dance the jitterbug.  Stop by Restaurant Eugene soon to try the K23 with some of our favorite goat cheeses from around the southeast, including Atlanta's own Decimal Place Farm.