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For Rene Hidalgo of Beloved in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, having a buck (a drink served tall with a ginger, citrus and sparkling aspect) on the menu was a must. "I live in bars. I need those low alcohol cocktails. They help me sustain my lifestyle."
The Dark and Stormy's ska-savvy cousin, Storm Warning, has a backbone of Cynar and pot stilled rum. The artichoke-flavored Cynar has a 16.5% ABV, while the rum carries a navy strength 57%. "I like the idea of playing this really aggressive very strong spirit against something that's way lower in alcohol. You have a really high-octane aspect to the drink but it's only an ounce of it....the drink isn't high in alcohol but you feel like you're drinking something."
The vegetal, bittersweet Cynar blends well with the rustic rum. "Smith and Cross has a great funk to it; that real pirate juice flavor you expect and want from Jamaican rums." Beloved extracts their own fresh ginger juice and adds sugar without heating. Heat, in fact, takes away the ginger's heat.
Hidalgo turns to ginger juice not only for its spice, but also for its texture. "People tend to forget about texture when creating drinks, but it's extremely important. It's going to affect the way that you taste it. It's going to hit your palate differently...The ginger holds air really well, so it gives it a nice creamy mouthfeel and head on top."
He shakes the alcohol and ginger with a few pieces of cracked ice to cool it briefly. "It's aerated, but not extremely light like a Collins. You get a bit of viscosity but it's still refreshing; it's not going to weight you down like a milkshake".
Keeping all senses in mind, he tops the drink with three splashes of Peychaud's bitters. No straw for this stormy, lest you miss out on the bitters' cherry-licorice aroma. "Now you're not just tasting it; you're getting a sensory experience up here," Hidalgo points to his nose. "Plus, it looks pretty."