The pistachio: Not just for popping into mouths whole.
This earthy-colored nut isn’t just a nutritious and delicious bar snack. Bartenders from New York to Chicago to San Francisco to Seattle are using the flavor-packed pistachio to make syrups and boozy infusions, and as a creative way to rim cocktail glasses.
Pistachios, it turns out, have a particular talent for mixing. Take the Lone Oak cocktail from bartender Jillian Vose at New York’s The Dead Rabbit. The Irish whiskey–based drink adds pistachio syrup to curry leaves, lemon juice and a bit of intensely herbal Green Chartreuse, boosting the flavor and green hue, for a subtly spiced, nutty drink. Fellow Dead Rabbit bartender Long Thai employs the house pistachio syrup, which has notes of orange flower water, in his tiki concoction John the Baptist. While it’s also Irish whiskey–spiked, Thai’s drink has notes of coconut, chocolate, apricot, absinthe and, another trendy ingredient: the green tea powder matcha.
Head out to the West Coast and Kevin Diedrich is putting a green spin on the newly opened BDK’s cocktail menu with the salted pistachio syrup–infused Lychee cocktail. Combining it with smoked-tea vodka, coconut-lychee milk and lime juice gives the nut a tropical twist.
There seem to be unlimited ways to use pistachio syrup, whether tiki-inspired (taking a cue from the almond) or…French? Mixologist John Stanton of Sable Kitchen & Bar in Chicago created a cocktail that might entice any Francophile. The Dans Le Nuit (which translates to “In the Night”) mixes pistachio syrup with a hint of lemon juice, orange curaçao and a cognac base.
Still not under spell of the humble pistachio? Perhaps instead of a green-hued concoction, an infusion might appeal. Whether using the nut or the shell, it’s hard to go wrong no matter what kind of booze gets involved.
Like fortified wines? Toss some chopped pistachios into a bottle of Oloroso sherry and let the pair mingle. Then, try the result in the EVOL from Chad Phillips at Shaker + Spear in Seattle. Just add bourbon and bitters for a delightful, mildly nutty drink.
Vodka, it turns out, is also a great vehicle for pistachios, as Nico de Soto discovered at his recently opened Mace bar in New York. The bar draws inspiration from spices around the globe for each of its cocktails, which makes Mace’s Cardamom cocktail all the more special. With a base of pistachio fat-washed vodka, it combines espresso and cardamom syrup for a frothy, easy-drinking finish.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with keeping it classic, either. The Pistachio Mule from Jeremy Strawn of Lazy Point in New York is a slight variation on the Moscow Mule that uses pistachio shell–infused vodka. It’s a whole new shade of green: You’ll never see those salty shells go to waste again.
Finally, the aptly named Cream of the Crop from Brian Means at San Francisco’s Dirty Habit would make a fantastic nightcap. There’s no infusion or syrup here, but instead a puree of coconut and pistachios combined with ginger liqueur, lemon and mezcal.
This is a green movement worth standing behind.
Illustrations: Ariel Dunitz-Johnson