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Flame throwers


Is it hot enough out there for you? We’ve got your tongue-scorching drinks to get you through the rest of the sultry summer.

Christina Nihira August 17th, 2011

A Bloody Mary is distinctive for its zesty zing, but it’s not the only drink capable of turning up the heat. A new style of spicy cocktails — martinis garnished with jalapeños, margaritas mixed with cayenne, spirits spiked with bitters — is fueling a new trend.

These refreshing beverages are part of a new clique. Perfect for summer, they compete nicely with the scorching temperatures in a mouthwatering way. To satisfy local residents, a new group of bars and bartenders give the metro drinking scene a particularly swanky flavor.

The bar at Ludivine, 805 N. Hudson, opened last fall and leads the pack. Barkeep Kyle Fleischfresser mixes balanced, inspired drinks — the contents of which would put the heart of the most delicate drinker aflutter.

“People are getting away from sweet (drinks),” he said. “I love a spicy drink. The cocktail offers endless possibilities to fool around with.”

That means moving beyond the bar and into the kitchen to get the ingredients: seasonings and spices.

So what’s hot? Fleischfresser serves up margaritas made the typical way: with tequila. But for the rim of the glass, he uses a blend of chili powder and salt.

Adding a twist on the classic at home, he recommended selecting your favorite tequila, lime juice, Triple Sec and agave nectar. Turn up the heat by simmering some chiles (you pick the level of intensity) in the agave nectar before combining the ingredients.

“The margarita is the optimal drink,” he said. “When I think spice, I think tequila. I think that is what the palate is geared for.”

Fleischfresser devoted a good bit of time making cocktails that complement the restaurant’s food. To show off his craft, the bar menu includes spice-infused liqueurs, simple syrups, bitters and ginger beer. By creating such distinctive drinks, he has attracted more business.

Tinged with bitters, a unique cocktail called the Unmitigated Truth recently brought in one customer two nights in a row.

“Until yesterday, I didn’t realize it was possible for a drink to be as bittersweet as the truth,” said bar patron Ash Morgan.

At Pearl’s Oyster Bar, 5641 N. Classen Blvd., it’s all about the classics. Winter or summer, weekend brunch offers a Bloody Mary bar. Brunch is served 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays.

Start by selecting a vodka. The choice may be difficult, given more than 20 are available.

Then, the fun of begins. The customer makes the drink suit his or her taste, adding whatever ingredients fancied. Some may prefer a spicier ratio of hot ingredients, while others want something a bit tamer.

“We bring (the vodka) in a hurricane glass,” said Steve Griffin, vice president of operations. “Then you walk up to the bar where we have multiple mixes, trimmings and hot sauces.”

One drop with some of the sauces will make you sweat.

—Rob Yarbrough

The mixes are fairly typical, including Clamato, Zing Zang and tomato juice. The frills one may add are remarkable, with tomolives (pickled green tomatoes), spicy green beans and pickled okra. Of course, the typical accompaniments are there, too, like celery, radishes, olives and onions.

No hot cocktail would be complete without a dash or two of hot sauce — a must to get that spicier kick. The bar features nearly two dozen specialties.

“I have tried them all,” said bar manager Rob Yarbrough. “One drop with some of the sauces will make you sweat.”

Not everyone likes insanely hot. That’s the beauty of a do-ityourself experience.

“The thing about (our bar) is you can make (it) however you like it,” said Griffin.

Photo by Mark Hancock

 
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