AT THE BAR veggie-tails
In recent years, chefs have increasingly turned to exotic—even bizarre—vegetables to take their signature dishes to the next level. And while the thought of kale, arugula, beets and radishes
making their way into craft cocktails may have some imbibers turning up their noses, the locavore
green trend appears to be moving behind the bar.
Instead of using bright sprigs of parsley or rosemary as mere cocktail décor, a growing number
of mixologists are taking an eco-chic approach to craft cocktails, incorporating surprisingly earthy
ingredients right in the drink.
“We’re in this cocktail renaissance, where people want different flavors and they want weird
things,” says Sam Treadway, owner of Backbar and Journeyman in Somerville, Massachusetts.
“It’s about finding ways to accommodate peoples’ evolving palates, whether they’re craving
something smoky, bitter, earthy or sweet.”
Some say the draw is a result of the farm-to-table movement, which has been trending in
culinary circles for decades. Others claim it’s part of the health-food craze that places vegetables at
center stage. Whatever the impetus, the idea of drinking your vegetables is gaining traction in the
cocktail world. Whether you’re sipping a concoction made with beet juice concentrate, mushroom
bitters or juiced cilantro, the end result is a flavor-forward elixir that’s not only delectable but also
MOVING BEYOND THE BLOODY
Incorporating freshly grown garden ingredients into cocktails isn’t a novel concept. The
infamous bloody mary dates back to the early 1920s. Since then, bartenders have been crafting
herbaceous libations that not only please the palate but also push the envelope. Kale margaritas,
arugula gimlets, mushroom martinis—all three are sprouting up at bars across the country. The
appeal: bright colors, bold flavors and refreshing earthiness without the typical snow-cone sweetness.
“It can be a little intimidating to bartenders who have been steeped in fruits and only ventured
out to veggies for a classic bloody mary,” says Bridget Albert, national director of education, Beam
Suntory, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, Miami, and co-author of Market-Fresh Mixology:
Cocktails for Every Season (Agate Surrey, 2008). “But it’s exciting at the same time, because
vegetables offer so many opportunities. They can taste sweet, smoky or bitter, depending on how
you treat them.”
IN THE GARDEN.
BY AMY PATUREL
OPPOSITE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP
LEFT: 1) The bar at Loa is stocked
with herbs to shake, muddle or stir
into cocktails. 2) The rosemary garnish
on Bridget Albert’s Smoking Jacket
cocktail is set ablaze tableside. 3) Loa’s
Green Door cocktail—green chartreuse,
Granny Smith apple, sage, mint, basil
and lemon. 4) The Arugula Gimlet, top,
and Beet Down cocktails at Backbar.