"I'm really fond of numbing Sichuan peppercorns," says Louie. In this drink, he infuses them into a mix of earthy green tea and white grape juice, then pairs the mixture with Aviation gin. "It looks like a stirred cocktail, but when you taste it, it's really refreshing," notes Louie.
The team considered texture when devising this cocktail, which is topped with a foam made by whipping Cole Porter from neighboring Magnolia Brewery with an espresso wand. The porter starts to bleed into the cocktail a bit once served, a bit like a lava lamp. The slightly nutty, slightly malty concoction below is made with Lillet Rosé, walnut liqueur from Napa Valley, and Combier triple sec.
This drink gets its vivid red color from fresh strawberry juice, which is thickened with a little xanthan gum for body. It's shaken with lemon and a mix of piney spirits: Anchor Hophead vodka, which is distilled with hops, and resiny Zirbenz Stone Pine liqueur. "It smells like a strawberry garden," says Louie of this seasonal cocktail.
Vasco de Gama
"I'm a huge Old Fashioned fan," says Louie, who worked at San Francisco's Dosa before he came to Alembic. "Working in an Indian restaurant exposed me to different spices, and I thought it would be fun to experiment with garam masala." The spices (which include green cardamom, cumin, coriander, mustard seed, and black pepper) flavor an apple juice and demerara syrup which softens the boozy combination of Buffalo Trace bourbon and smoky Islay single malt Scotch. The drink is garnished with a dehydrated apple chip.
"We wanted to feature Sino tequila," an all-female owned and operated company, notes Alembic bartender Rachel Leiderman. Here, the Sino reposado is mixed with a housemade pineapple gomme syrup, lots of fresh lime, and three different finishing components: Mexican-made Fernet-Vallet, Cardenal Mendoza Spanish brandy ("it has a sherried, oxidative note") and House Spirits Coffee Liqueur. The tart drink is garnished with pineapple sage.
Inspired by Charles H. Baker's Daisy de Santiago, a classic combination of rum, lime, simple syrup, and Chartreuse, Danny Louie says this bright herbal cocktail is "a daiquiri with benefits." It features Flor de Cana white rum, Yellow Chartreuse, lime, and a banana cordial made by infusing bananas and a bit of sugar in a combination of aged and white rums for a week. It's spiced with a tincture made with fresh Bird's eye chilies. "This feels like two cocktails in one," says Louie. "First you get a shot of lime and Chartreuse, and then it develops, with the banana sweetness and extra kick of chili on the back end."