South African-inspired beef jerky bar Biltong in Atlanta uses fresh celery juice and toasted celery seeds to get max vegetal flavor for its Celery Sour. The celery mix is shaken with pineapple-infused gin, cucumber bitters and Greek yogurt, which does the emulsive work of egg whites but adds a tangier kick. “It takes a bit of convincing, because people are thrown off when they see all those ingredients in the same sentence,” says bar manager James Cramer. “But they come together in a way that’s bigger than the sum of its parts.”
While we don’t often see celery as the primary theme in cocktails today, the concept is not exactly new to the drinks world. In fact, a Celery Sour recipe appeared in the 1917 edition of classic cocktail book “The Ideal Bartender” by Tom Bullock, though this recipe actually contained no spirit. Instead, Bullock’s Celery Sour called for just shaved ice and one spoonful each of lemon juice, pineapple syrup and celery bitters, stirred and strained into a “fancy wine glass” with fruit. Biltong Bar’s evolved version is perhaps proof of how far the bar trade has come over time.
- 2 ounces pineapple-infused gin*
- 1 tsp Licor 43
- 3/4 ounce celery syrup**
- 3/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 tsp Greek yogurt
- 2 dashes cucumber bitters
- Garnish: pineapple leaf
Add the pineapple-infused gin, Licor 43, celery syrup, lemon juice, Greek yogurt and cucumber bitters into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into a coupe glass.
Garnish with a pineapple leaf.
*Pineapple-infused gin: Remove the ends and rind of a small pineapple and cut the flesh into 1-inch-thick wheels. Combine the pineapple with 1 liter London dry gin in a vacuum bag and seal. Cook sous vide for 2 hours at 155 degrees Fahrenheit, then ice-bath until cold and fine-strain through a coffee filter.
**Celery syrup: Add 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 cup water and 2 coarsely chopped celery stalks to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes over medium heat. Let cool, then strain into a sealable jar. Will keep, refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks.