Tag Archives: soju

Exotic Experimentation: Ember Room’s cocktail menu gets an overhaul

18 Sep

Ember Room, the Asian-inspired barbecue restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen from chefs Todd English and Ian Chalermkittichai, has brought on “mixsultant” Joseph Boroski to inject some excitement into the previously unremarkable cocktail menu, which featured drinks like Sakejitos and Thai basil Juleps. Boroski picked up some local mixology techniques while consulting for Starwood hotels in Asia and has incorporated many of these ideas into 10 new cocktails ($12 to $14) for Ember Room.

On a recent visit, bartender Leigha served a slew of drinks from the updated menu. First up: the Korea Cosmo, which was by far the best Cosmopolitan I’ve ever had. It blends ginseng-infused Karlsson’s Gold potato vodka, orange peel–infused soju, fresh grapefruit juice, cranberry juice, pasteurized dried egg white and honey syrup. The cocktail was bright, balanced and not too sweet, with an added depth of flavor from the soju.

Next, I tried the Emotional Well-Being, featuring vodka that’s been infused with ginger, hot pepper, basil, star anise, and other herbs and spices. The spirit is stirred with lime juice and palm sugar syrup in a Japanese mixing glass, then poured over an ice sphere that contains julienned cucumber and pomegranate seeds. Garnished with smacked basil leaves, the aromatic concoction warms from the inside with a bite of heat in the back of the throat—perfect for fall.

Leigha followed up with a drink called A Thousand and One Nights, comprising Hendrick’s gin, muddled blueberries, oolong tea leaves, ground Sichuan pepper, curry powder, fresh lemon juice and palm sugar syrup. The cocktail is served in a glass rimmed with a blend of sugar and the same Eastern spices found in the drink, then topped with Fragoli strawberry liqueur. It’s a delicious combination of savory and sweet.

Continuing the oriental theme, the Chrysanthemum Gin Fizz incorporates the Asian flower and Bulldog gin, which contains Eastern botanicals like dragon eye, poppy and lotus leaves. The cocktail mixes the gin, house-made chrysanthemum syrup, fresh lemon juice and dried pasteurized egg white, topped with The Bitter Truth Creole bitters and a couple of dried chrysanthemums that have been soaked in plum wine.

I ended the evening with a caffeine kick. The Café Tarik features freshly brewed coffee and condensed coconut milk that’s “pulled” via a Malaysian method used in tea preparation (“tarik” means “pull” in Malay). The mixture is then poured over a blend of vodka and date honey in a traditional mug and topped with a coffee/coconut milk foam. The drink tasted like a boozy iced latte made with strong gourmet espresso and had just a touch of sweetness from the honey and the creamy coconut milk. If I only I could start my mornings with one of these every day!

The cocktail menu also includes a number of additional exotic cocktails that I didn’t get a chance to try this time around. Utilizing ingredients found in the food stalls of Bangkok, the Thai Streetside Ladyboy Daiquiri mixes light rum that’s been infused with pandanus fruit—which is native to the Pacific Islands and eastern Australia—with fresh pineapple and lime juices, palm sugar syrup, basil seeds and orange bitters. The Shake Me Make Me features kaffir lime leaf–infused Tequila, fresh cantaloupe, apple cider, lime juice and palm sugar syrup, topped with balsamic vinegar. And the Yao/Dao/Heu, comprising Sichuan pepper/oolong tea–infused sake, orange-infused soju, date honey, plum syrup and fresh lemon juice, is prepared in a custom-made cocktail shaker that’s modeled after a long-spouted Chinese teapot. I definitely plan to return to Ember Room soon so I can see it in action, though I doubt it will look anything like this video.

© Amber Drea and New York Drinkie, 2011. Unauthorized use or duplication of images and text without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts may be quoted, provided that clear credit is given to Amber Drea and New York Drinkie with links directing to the original content.

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