White Summer (all cocktails $14)
Among the simpler of Polsky's drinks, White Summer is essentially a vodka gimlet, starting from a base of Kaffir Lime Hangar 1 vodka—"people love it, it's well-made, crisp and bright," with clarified lime juice and simple syrup.
Love to Turn You On
"With this one, I'm thinking—cup of tea on a rainy day in London." Earl Grey-infused Brooklyn Gin stirred with clarified lemon juice and honey.
But when Polsky says "Earl Grey infusion," he doesn't mean it in the simple sense. Instead, he's using a neutral fat (Crisco) to absorb the flavors and aromatics of the tea—steeping a cup, covering in a cap of barely melted Crisco, allowing that fat cap to absorb the aromatics—and then fatwashing the gin with the tea-infused Crisco. (None of that fat ends up in the drink—it's just a vehicle for the tea.) He's using a similar method for Today Is My Lucky Day (next).
Today Is My Lucky Day
'Love to Turn You On' is the light, vibrant tea drink, this is the brooding, darker coffee one. "Coffee drinks usually taste like ghosts of coffee to me," says Polsky; "I wanted something better." With the same fatwashing method he uses in Love to Turn You On, he infuses Blackwell rum with coffee; that rum and Gosling's then form the base of a stirred drink with Dolin dry vermouth, Luxardo Bitter, and Bittercube Cherry-Bark Vanilla bitters.
"I swear to you, the name of the drink came before the garnish," says Polsky of this cocktail. It starts from a base of Flor de Caña extra dry 4-year, Dolic blanc, and Rhum J.M. From there, the strawberry, in several incarnations: clarified strawberry juice, strawberry water (made in the same manner as the mint water), and June liqueur, a vine flower liqueur created from grape blossoms with its own distinctly floral and sweet berry scent. The result is a drink that's not at all juicy, but tastes vividly of strawberries. "I want it to have an island feel—sea air, sunshine, straw hats, all of that."
A cocktail intended to showcase Polsky's pineapple-infused tequila. The ingredients are combined in a nitrogen-charged iSi unit—you might be more familiar with them as whipped cream makers; pineapple and tequila go in the container, and then the nitrogen pressurization allows for a lightning-fast 2-minute infusion. "The infusion is the easiest way to get the flavor of the pineapple in there clearly," Polsky says.
From there, it's Cocchi Americano, Green Chartreuse, and Dolin dry vermouth, with Barsol Pisco Mosto Verde—a pisco distilled from partially fermented grapes, leaving some residual sugar—and Hophead, Anchor Distilling's hopped vodka.
In The Shade
From a simple base of No. 3 gin emerges an aromatic, floral element that's hard to pinpoint. Ylang-ylang water, "the secret ingredient in Chanel No. 5."
Do What Thou Wilt
"I want this cocktail to exceed the sum of this parts," says Polsky of this brash but balanced coffee drink. Stumptown cold brew and Fernet Branca emerge most clearly, two ingredients that can never be ignored, joined by a supporting cast of Benedictine, Fidencio mezcal, Kashmiri chili oil, and absinthe. "You wouldn't think it, but the absinthe actually has a sweetness that masks some of the more bitter elements," says Polsky. "I played around with it, adding a drop at a time—between 10 and 15 drops it changed radically."
"It's basically a really fancy Old Fashioned," says Polsky of this bourbon-based drink with King's Ginger and "a ton of bitters"—Chinese Five Spice, Jerry Thomas, and Jamaican #1 Bittercube bitters. There's a bit of crème de menthe and then, continuing on the theme, a mint water hydrosol—the leaves steam-distilled into a solution (in much the same way as rosewater is made).