Holiday baggage still weighing you down? Drink it off with this deliciously tangy juice blend from Rouge Tomate. The modern-American restaurant in New York's Upper East Side is lauded for its healthy, locavore approach to dining. Its cocktails—virgin and otherwise—adhere to these same principles, drawing on seasonal produce for nutritious blends that sing.
For a cold-weather, hangover-clearing elixir, Rouge Tomate head bartender Cristian Molina whips up the Winter Citrus Punch. "The citrus is just amazing right now," says Molina, who waxes especially poetic about clementine juice.
Molina takes advantage of citrus season by mixing a kumquat puree—made with whole kumquats cooked in orange juice and tangerine honey—with clementine, grapefruit, yuzu, blood orange, and lemon juices. He uses a citrus juicer for the all but the yuzu, which he buys bottled. "I tried juicing yuzu, but it was too hard," Molina laments. "They're so dry and expensive; like thirty dollars a pound."
He muddles a pinch of tarragon for a subtle anise undertone, combining the herbs and juices in a shaker with ice and a bit of white pepper. "I got the idea of pairing white pepper and citrus from the kitchen," notes Molina. "We at the bar are often inspired by the chef's dishes." Molina looks to white pepper for more than just its spice. "This drink that has a lot of citrus, and a lot of them might taste similar, yet they are completely different fruits. The pepper helps your tongue distinguish the different flavors, like the distinct tanginess of the kumquat."
He adds a candied kumquat to the glass, then shakes and strains, filling the glass with pebble ice. "I sprinkle black pepper on top, to signal the pepper inside. And I hide the candied kumquat at the bottom, so you have a nice, edible surprise when you're done with your drink."
Lively, bright and incredibly refreshing, this is the kind of drink that could make you forget about liquor altogether. Though that tequila-smoked sea salt variation that Molina mentioned does sound awfully tempting...