Finding inspiration in the back of the house, bar chefs are borrowing ingredients from the kitchen. Not only does this make for some inventive imbibing, it makes ordering more efficient. These culinary cocktails are designed to pair with specific dishes, much like a sommelier pairs wine. Three mixologists show us how.
Brian Van Flandern
Per Se, New York City
In keeping with Per Se’s theme, Van Flandern makes everything fresh, from his signature Tonic with Gin, featuring his own tonic water (made from Brazilian quinine powder and Ty Nant sparkling water), to fruit or herb-infused spirits. Van Flandern stresses balance in a cocktail; by stimulating several areas of the palate, it becomes compatible with avariety of food. A crisp, refreshing cocktail, such as the bubbly, sweet and sour cucumber lime Le Jardin Verde is an excellent aperitif to serve with chef Thomas Keller’s famous salmon tartare cornets.
Liquid Architecture, Marina Del Rey, California
To create her signature cocktail/food pairings, Haasarud picks a base ingredient that will appear in both the dish and the cocktail—a spice, a fruit or a vegetable, as long as it is fresh. For example, her Cantaloupe Martini partners with an appetizer of prosciutto-wrapped melon.
Terrace Lounge at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, Seattle, Washington
The Olympic Hotel’s restaurants showcase the Pacific Northwest’s seafood and produce. Vezzoni’s cocktails, many of which rely on housemade herb-and fruit-infused spirits, reflect the same sourcing and freshness. His organic martinis, in flavors such as Basil Berry and Maple Leaf, are versatile enough to pair with seafood or dessert. A standout signature, the ginger-spiked Olympic Gold Martini pairs well with Asian-inspired dishes such as Thai Crusted Chicken and Pork Dumplings on Sugar Cane Sticks.