3 of a Kind: Oil Cocktails
3 of a Kind checks out three places across the country to try something cool, new and delicious.
Oil is seeping past the confines of the kitchen, thanks to creative bartenders across the country. While the ingredient has been used in cooking for decades, it’s starting to pop up in new drinkable ways from coast to coast. The addition of oil to the arsenal of standard cocktail ingredients has enabled bartenders to play with textures and flavors in innovative ways. The opportunities seem vast for this burgeoning bar technique, whether tweaking the texture of a savory concoction or enhancing the flavor of a bright, citrus-forward drink. Here are some standout cocktails that typify the trend.
#1 at Birch, Los Angeles
When it comes to elevating ordinary cocktails into beyond-basic concoctions, nationally recognized bar expert Gabriella Mlynarczyk knows a thing or two about the transformative powers of oil. Not only is she devoting an entire chapter to the subject in her upcoming cocktail book, but she’s also had plenty of practice with the ingredient behind the bar.
“Oils I’ve used vary from brown butter, walnut oil, olive oil, goat milk, harissa oil, sesame oil to coconut butter and oil,” says Mlynarczyk, who is Birch’s bar manager. Drinks change seasonally, but one crowd-pleasing concoction to look out for at Birch is the #1, which features lemongrass-basil rum, coconut butter orgeat , coconut milk and lime.
Gopalito at Bazaar Meat by José Andrés, Las Vegas
Renowned Spanish chef José Andrés is no stranger to taking risks. After all, he’s the culinary mind behind the foieffle, the foie gras waffle. That same boundary-pushing playfulness that infuses the food menu at his restaurant Bazaar Meat by José Andrés also informs the cocktail program. Just as foie gras and waffles turned out to be a winning combination, so has sesame oil and sherry.
The Gopalito features gin, Amontillado sherry, honey, ginger, sudachi, lemon, and sesame oil. “With just a tiny little bit [of oil], you can add a lot of aroma and a particular texture cohesion that I find very appealing,” says Miguel Lancha, cocktail innovator for Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup.
Dirty Martini at Scarpetta, New York City
At Scarpetta in Chelsea, the Dirty Martini stays true to its name and drinks like a really, really dirty martini. The fuel behind its flavor is peperoncino, which is added via both an oil mist and an olive brine. Grey Goose VX is mixed with the olive brine, which has been infused with peperoncino peppers for 48 hours, then finished with the peperoncino oil mist.
“The result is a slightly peppery, smoky flavor and a very rich mouthfeel,” says Scarpetta food and beverage manager Alexa Amendolagine, who explains that the recipe was created as a way to elevate a dirty martini. “After looking around the restaurant to see what ingredient struck us as being integral to Scarpetta’s cuisine, we settled on peperoncino.”
For other fun cocktail trends, check out Food Network’s gallery devoted to the best tiki bars in America.
Photography courtesy of Gabriella Mlynarczyk, Anthony Mair and Scarpetta NY