Aperitif: Noilly Prat Extra Dry Vermouth, Cynar, Jasmine Green Tea, Angostura Bitters
A variation on The Bamboo cocktail, this substitutes Cynar for sherry and was a light, fragrant start to the meal. The drink is diluted with green tea, and chilled. The effect is delicate, with sturdy bitterness thanks to the Cynar.
Bowls of creamy, crab-laced dip were studded with tender-steamed artichoke leaves, and served with whisper-thin potato chips to accompany the aperitif.
First Course: Salad and 'Dressing'
A cocktail of Cynar, fresh fennel juice, Champagne vinegar, and Cava acts as the "dressing" to a salad of raw shaved artichokes, roasted carrots, pickled onions and mushrooms, and sweet spring peas. The drink nicely balanced sweet with bitter and heft with lightness. The cocktail's flavors were mirrored the bitter raw artichokes, the tender roast carrots, and the bright acidity of the pickled onions.
Soup and Soup
Turns out, the cold soup is the cocktail—a generously ladled serving of Cynar, fino sherry, Vin d'Orange, black pepper (in syrup and tea form), and smoked sage. Paired with an artichoke brodo, this combination was one of Schick's favorites.
"It was definitely the most complicated pairing, and I think we nailed it" he said. "The brodo is so simple in presentation, but I was so impressed with how much flavor he got out of the artichokes. Their rich nuttiness really brought out the nuttiness in the sherry. The brodo hit the high, warm colors, while the drink hit the darker, cooler colors," as Schick put it. The subtleties of flavor were excellent, but the cocktail had an incredible strong flavor that, with this generous a serving, could have stood the dilution of an ice cube or two.
Serving the Soup and Soup
How often do you get a cocktail served in a soup bowl?
Meat and Beer
Schick and Quilty knew early on that they wanted to do a beer cocktail with the dinner's lamb course. They mixed Cynar, Flor de Cana 7-year rum, cherry juice, and lemon, then topped the drink off with a hoppy pour of Green Flash Hophead Red. The floral bitterness of the beer stood up to the bittersweet Cynar, and it was all further amplified by the tang of fresh lemon and sweet cherry juice.
It made for a refreshing drink to cut through the richness of the lamb (which was served four ways: crispy belly, sous vide loin with anchovy, confit neck and leg, and shank), and offered enough heftiness of flavor to echo the heartiness of the dish. The lamb, served with an artichoke fritter, ramp yogurt, and chickpeas, was one of our favorite dishes of the evening.
Tea and Cake
This dessert 'tea' came in two steps: our teacups were brought to us with Cynar, creme de violette, and Meyer lemon in them. This was topped with a blend of artichoke leaf, clove, star anise, and vanilla that was steeping in a French press. Once poured, the strong fragrance of the cocktail was immediately evident, and bitter, citrus flavors came to the fore with a subtle suggestion of sweetness.
The cake, a dense, moist blend of artichoke hearts, dates, and pistachios (and topped with a savory dollop of cardamom creme fraiche) countered the bitterness of the tea and enhanced the drink's sweet suggestion, nicely matching its bracing flavor (all the better for digestion).