Our mothers warn us to consume plenty of vegetables and increasingly, we can do so through cocktails that bars are dishing up.
Mostly in an effort to follow trends and offer local, seasonal food, they are using produce to create interesting and unusual drinks that will get customers thinking.
Red Pump Kitchen in Charlottesville, Va., is using pea tendrils in the Talking Knot cocktail to offer a very fresh beverage to its guests.
“We wanted to go straight to the source [for our cocktail ingredients],” says restaurant manager Kendall Moore. “We use produce in the kitchen but this was an idea to make sure the harvest was being put to good use.”
Offering up the pea shoots in both food and beverage also ties the menu together, he explains. “I wanted our drinks to echo some of the sentiment of the food side and define a Red Pump Kitchen experience.”
Produce at the restaurant/bar comes from nearby Pippin Hill Farms. For the Talking Knot, the pea tendrils are blended with fresh tarragon, mint and basil, plus sometimes spinach, arugula and/or ginger. “If I want the herbal component to stand out more we add the spinach and arugula,” explains Moore.
The blend is double strained, then mixed with Macchu Pisco, Cocchi Americano, tequila and lime juice, producing a bright, slightly bitter, and vegetal drink that’s served over ice and garnished with herbal flowers and of course, the decorative pea tendrils.
“The pea tendrils add some sweetness to this cocktail,” says Moore. “They’re not as starchy as the pea itself and add a snappy, crisp cleanness and a really nice color.” Plus, like aquafaba, which has shot to fame in the past few years, when the pea tendrils are shaken, they give the drink a foamy egg white-type head, so add texture, too.
Daisies in Chicago has close ties with Frillman Farms, an hour away, which is owned by the brother of executive chef/owner Joe Frillman.
“We try to pull a lot of produce from Frillman Farms and other surrounding farms,” says Pete Gugni, cocktail director and spirit guide. “We want the food and beverage to harmonize and work together. So, any time Joe is bringing in anything new we speak and have ideas as to where it can fit in.”
The venue’s Beet Old Fashioned was launched shortly after the restaurant opened its doors in June 2017 and has been so popular it’s remained on the menu. It contains beet juice, rye whiskey and bitters, and is an earthy drink, Gugni says, with the beets and the earthiness in whiskey and the bitters, which have similar aromatics to baking spices.
Gugni juices the beets and adds demerara sugar to add more earthiness and flavor. “It’s a fairly simple drink and shouldn’t be muddied or muted—you should be able to taste all the ingredients,” he says. “The beet comes through very strong but integrates well and gives the cocktail a deep purple color that really catches people’s eyes as it goes out.” The cocktail’s served on the rocks with an orange peel garnish for $11.
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The Green Giant is also $11 and was launched in August. It contains juiced green beans, tequila blanco, Velvet Falernum, simple syrup, Regan’s Bitters and lemon or lime juice.
“Green beans are something you wouldn’t usually add to a drink,” Gugni says, “but they’re fresh and vegetal and I felt that screamed tequila, and then we needed some other ingredients to bridge the gap between the two. It’s so well balanced. We never want to overcomplicate a drink because everything should shine on its own and the vegetal aspect is what we want people to taste.”
The cocktails are mostly drunk with food here, and the Green Giant especially pairs well with salads and pastas, and its acidity means it cuts through richer dishes, too.
Recipe courtesy of Red Pump Kitchen; Image: Eric Kelley
- 0.75 oz. Espolon Reposado tequila
- 0.75 oz. Macchu Pisco
- 0.75 oz. Lime Juice
- 1.5 oz. Green mix (recipe below)
- Basil leaf and pea tendrils to garnish
Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake for about 10 seconds. Strain with a cocktail strainer and a tea strainer into a couple glass. Garnish with a basil leaf and pea tendrils
For the green mix:
- 1-inch Ginger, shaved with a microplane
- 1 cup Greens (spinach, arugula)
- 2 cups Pea tendrils
- 1 cup Herbs, (suggested: tarragon, mint, basil)
- 12 oz. Water
Blend all ingredients on medium speed, increasing to high speed gradually. Strain the mixture with a fine strainer to catch any plant fibers until it is fully liquidized. Place into a separate container.
The Green Giant
Recipe and image courtesy of Joe Frillman at Daisies
- 1.5 oz. Tequila blanco
- 0.25 oz. Velvet Falernum
- 0.75 oz. Juiced green beans
- 0.5 oz. Simple syrup
- 0.75 oz. Lime/lemon juice
- Regan’s bitters
Shake up all ingredients and serve up, on the rocks.