So This Exists: Pho-Flavored Cocktail at Emmanuelle in Philadelphia
"We used to live in the land of pho," says Emmanuelle bartender Phoebe Esmon of her former digs (with fiancé Christian Gaal) in Vietnamese-food-blessed South Philadelphia. Though the couple has since decamped to a largely Polish nabe due north, they soaked up enough broth through consumption and osmosis (Esmon doesn't eat meat) to come up with a cocktail mimicking the beef-based noodle soup.
To a base of gin or vodka, Esmon adds lime juice and a light homemade syrup infused with all the essential flavors that build a pho broth: star anise, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, pecan, charred ginger and onions. She then shakes in mint, Thai basil, and cilantro (producing a "lovely shade of pond water," she jokes) and garnishes with her own pickled bean sprouts and an optional float of sriracha. The ingredients are congruent with a summertime poolside cooler, with final squeeze-bottle addition pointing the drink toward Bloody Mary territory once stirred in.
"It's really a fancy gimlet," says Esmon of the cocktail, which sports a Lebowski-inspired moniker, 'Worthy F**king Adversary'. The name may motivate a good number of orders, but she's quick to point out that "this drink never gets sent back—even if people don't know what it was when they ordered it."