In their quest to produce ever finer cocktails, bartenders have unearthed centuries-old recipes, learned the art of ice carving and planted gardens.
But for some, that’s just not enough. There’s a new generation of mixologists who are going to even more extreme measures to ensure that they’re using the highest quality ingredients.
Take the acclaimed Founding Farmers in Washington, DC, which recently invested in six beehives. By next spring, they’ll be producing as much as 100 pounds of honey per year that the restaurant’s mixologist, Jon Arroyo, and his team will put to good use. And up in Toronto, the Fairmont Royal York Hotel has a menu of cocktails based around the honey created in its rooftop apiary.
But it’s not just bees being kept. At celebrity chef Dan Barber’s award-winning Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, NY, drinks like the Smoked Sour and the Apricot Flip are made with fresh eggs laid by one of the establishment’s hens. “The eggs are definitively frothier, richer, eggier,” says general manager Philippe Gouze.
Bartenders are also turning to specialized purveyors for exotic items that they can’t (yet) grow themselves. The Ohio-based Chef’s Garden is becoming a popular source for edible flowers (it stocks more than 25 varieties) and other mixological oddities, including zesty lemon sticks, cardamom skewers and horseradish shoots. The best part? There’s no green thumb required.
Francine Cohen is the editor-in-chief of InsideFandB.com.