How to *Produce* a Great Cocktail
The other night, I stopped by Vegetate, the vegetarian restaurant and bar in DC's Shaw neighborhood, to sample some specialty cocktails that mixologists Jonathan Harris and Mina Shahriary were whipping up specifically for that evening. (Coincidentally, Metrocurean also stopped by, so we sipped and chatted a bit.)
The first drink I tried was one I covered for my recent article in Modern Luxury DC about floral elements in cocktails--it was cool to finally try it in person. The Scotland Yard uses Noilly Prat dry vermouth, Tanqueray gin, whatever fresh herbs happen to be in Vegetate's garden at the time (included that night were lavender, thyme, basil, lemongrass and cilantro), local cucumber and lime. It tasted (not surprisingly) very herby--pretty much like a fresh salad in a glass. Very refreshing.
Next up was the Heirloom Tomato Martini, with Square One organic vodka, Noilly Prat dry vermouth and tomato water. I love tomatoes, and do enjoy a Bloody Mary during brunch once in awhile. But the thickness sometimes gets to me. Mina told me she strained the juice for this cocktail, and while it wasn't as thin as water, texturally it was a big improvement over tomato juice. And the drink had a delightful salt and pepper rim.
Since the first two drinks I sampled were savory, I ended the evening with a sweeter choice. Sex on the Mountain has Goji berry infused Square One Vodka, Grand Marnier, muddled local peaches, and Regan's orange bitters. Goji berries lend an earthy/woody flavor to the vodka, which is countered by the sweetness of the peaches. Served over ice, it's a great choice to sip on a hot summer evening.
To nibble with my libations, I ordered mini grilled cheese sandwiches, made with sourdough bread, chive butter, Vermont cheddar and bitter greens. Drizzled with balsamic vinegar, these little sammies were the best grilled cheese I've ever had. Yum.
This past Wednesday was the first in what Jonathan hopes to be a special monthly cocktail party. For more info, check out Vegetate's website.