Thursday, June 24, 2010

Notes on $8 Cocktails at the Mondrian

So it's Friday night and you want to get drinks? Somewhere pretty, scenic, sexy. Also, let's have those drinks be somewhat inexpensive for South Beach ($8 as opposed to $14) and made by a bartender who takes his spirit-mixing seriously. Throw in cheap valet ($8 as opposed to a whopping $24) and like-priced snacks and you've got the Mondrian's new Friday night deal. I checked out this happy hour a few weeks ago and I walked out buzzed, sun-kissed and smiling.
Here's a rundown of the $8 cocktails, each made by Mondrian head bartender Jess Tommy, one of those types who can chat endlessly about house-made bitters, old school cocktails and the origins of Aperol (a kinder, gentler Campari).

Sunset Manhattan
Grapefruit peel infused Sazerac straight Rye whiskey stirred with sweet vermouth, orange bitters and garnished with a passion fruit laced maraschino cherry.
I wasn't a big fan of this one, a little too strong and whiskey-heavy for hot weather.

Twilight Margarita
Cazadores reposado Tequila mixed with freshly squeezed lime juice, crushed cucumbers, dash of Aperol and a splash of orange liqueur.
This one (pictured at top) was refreshing and not too sweet. A nice bitter citrus bite from the Aperol. If you like tequila, drink this.

Pisco Dusk Sour
Gran Sierpe Peruvian Pisco shaken with fresh crushed blackberries & cardamom pods, hand squeezed lemon juice, a hint of honey and frothy egg white garnished with 3 drops of Jerry Thomas bitters.
A labor-heavy drink (there are probably 11 steps to this one), but so worth it. Mix-man Tommy explained that he does a "dry shake" with the egg white, meaning he shakes it without ice in the shaker so as to emulsify the egg and get the right foamy consistency. After adding in the pisco, blackberries, crushed cardamom pods and everything else, he strains the mixture leaving a smoothie-like drink (akin to a retro daiquiri). The cardamom added a spicy and perfumey complexity.

Sundown Sidecar
Hennessey VSOP Cognac shaken with crushed Lychees, fresh squeezed lemon juice and a touch of ginger liqueur, garnished with a Hawaiian raw sugar rim.

Okay, usually not a fan of the sugared rim, but this drink really impressed me. Mind you, I had consumed sips (or a bit more) of three drinks already. But I took a sip of this and thought, I can drink these all night. I'm a ginger lover and that Domaine De Canton is a nice base for the fresh lychees. It was summery and delicious.

Pegu Club Paradise
Hendricks Gin shaken with freshly squeezed lime juice, orange bitters, crushed strawberries, coconut cream and orange curacao.
All the drinks were great, but this one was Best in Show. The coconut lent a subtle creaminess, the muddled strawberries added tang and sweetness and the whole thing just came together in a balanced, refreshing way. It's a pink drink, sure, but there was something serious and strong about it.
More info here.


Anonymous said...

Curious about the Cognac and ginger drink. Might attempt at home!

sara said...

Yes, one of the more surprising combos of the night. Don't forget fresh lychees.