Lucky for those of us 21 and older, mixed drinks have come a long way since 1988’s “Cocktail,” starring a dancing, juggling Tom Cruise as bartender. Less clowning and gyrating, more art and science, cocktails have evolved into a sophisticated part of the restaurant dining experience.
By STACY DOWNS
The Kansas City Star
Cocktail culture is a strong force in Kansas City, home to a speakeasy under a restaurant (Manifesto beneath Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange) and Paris of the Plains, a weeklong festival.
Jenna Hammond is bartender at Justus Drugstore in Smithville, where she makes liqueurs and bitters out of locally grown fruit and herbs.
“There’s no end to what you can make with infusions and beyond,” says Hammond, whose mixology resume includes Westside Local. She recently made a dark chocolate, chili pepper and pear brandy.
Hammond created a signature drink fitting of Thanksgiving, using gin instead of traditional whiskey. No “Cocktail” moves required.
Makes 1 serving
1 cinnamon stick
1 anise star
5 allspice spheres
3 green cardamom pods
14 ounces hot water
1 1/2 ounces Citadelle Gin (see note)
1/2 ounce Velvet Falernum liqueur (see note)
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup (see note)
Orange twist (a curl of orange zest made with a channel blade) cinnamon stick and anise star, for garnish
Steep cinnamon stick, anise star, allspice spheres, cardamom and cloves in hot water for 3 minutes. Stir liquor, juice, syrup and 3 ounces of tea (spice and water mix) together and pour into mug. The leftover tea is enough to make three more servings.
Garnish with the orange twist, cinnamon stick and anise star
Note about Citadelle Gin and Velvet Falernum: They are not available in Kansas liquor stores. Gomer’s Midtown on the Missouri side carries botheach.
Note about simple syrup: Use 2 parts water, 1 part sugar. Cook over low heat until liquid is clear; then boil for 1 minute.
Note about spices: You don’t have to go out and buy multiple jars of spices that you’ll use only sparingly. I already had cinnamon sticks, but by buying just small amounts of the required spices in bulk at Whole Foods, I was able to buy them, a lemon and an orange for just more than $2.50.
Per serving: 165 calories (none from fat), no fat, no cholesterol, 6 grams carbohydrates, trace protein, 2 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber.
Must-have bar tools
As a mixologist, Hammond is hip to what cocktail enthusiasts should have for their home bars. Each item pictured is from Crate & Barrel, 4601 W. 119th St. in Leawood, crateandbarrel.com.
• Bar Tool and Ice Bucket Set ($49.95). This comes with several of Hammond’s essentials: a jigger for measuring, a strainer for pouring smooth drinks and a bar spoon for stirring. The polished stainless steel set also comes with an ice bucket, tongs and a bottle opener.
• Boston Shaker ($19.95). A clear tempered glass cup, instead of the stainless steel cup/strainer combo of the cobbler shaker, makes a show of colorful cocktails without spilling a drop.
• Muddler ($12.95). A stainless steel muddler with a black silicone head releases the flavor of limes for caipirinhas, cherries for Old Fashioneds and mint for juleps. Muddlers also crush culinary herbs to a paste-like consistency.
Knives and juicing tools are key to success, Hammond says. These are from Crate & Barrel.
• Bar cutting board ($8.95). A small cutting surface for citrus, herbs and garnishes is crucial. On this one, nonslip green handles are molded into the 7-by-10-inch polypropylene board.
• Citrus press ($16.95). Hammond prefers sturdy metal vs. plastic. This dual-citrus squeezer is die-cast aluminum.
• Paring knife ($7.95). Precision is needed for slicing.
• Channel knife ($5.95). Also called a channel blade, this is the center of a zester that cuts individual curls for garnishes.