When he was bar manager at Bar Mash in Charleston, South Carolina, Teddy Nixon wanted to evoke the shifting of the season from summer into fall, especially the iconic view of the changing leaves during a New England autumn. “I also wanted the flavors to change from bright and sunny to a little more earthy and spicy,” he says. “So the drink goes from bright green to a deep red, just like the leaves.” The trick involves some truly unorthodox drink ingredients from the garden and some creative thinking, but produces some stunning effects.
The Change in Seasons starts with an ingredient you’re not likely to see at the backbar of your local cocktail lounge: sweet peas. Specifically Very Young Small Sweet Peas from Le Sueur, a brand specializing in canned heritage vegetables. These petite peas add a gentle sweetness as well as an earthy, vegetal note to the drink. There’s no real substitution for them save maybe fresh sweet peas straight from the garden; try using frozen supermarket peas only at your own risk.
Ice cubes made with pomegranate, beets and allspice add even more sweetness and earthiness, as well as contribute to the color-changing aspect of the drink as they slowly melt, turning the green drink a vivid violet and red hue. Nixon uses St. Elizabeth allspice dram, a popular and readily available brand—only three ounces of the aromatic liqueur goes into the ice cube mixture, but it’s assertive enough that its flavors come through amongst the beet juice, pomegranate and simple syrup.
Tarragon leaves also add to the aromatics, while a blend of rum, lime and sugar bring sweetness and acid. Nixon uses Plantation 3 Star as the base spirit, a lovely clear rum that, while affordable, works beautifully in drinks due to its bright, fruity characteristics and its complexity. The clear properties of the white rum help maintain the clarity of the drink, so substituting it with an aged rum can potentially muddy the colors.
- 2 barspoons Le Sueur very young small sweet peas
- 2 1/4 ounces Plantation 3 Stars rum
- 1 ounce lime juice
- 3/4 ounce simple syrup
- 6 tarragon leaves
- Garnish: 5 small pomegranate/beet/allspice ice cubes*
Muddle the peas in the bottom of mixing tin, then add the remaining ingredients.
Add ice and shake until well-chilled.
Double-strain using a handheld strainer into a short-stemmed glass.
Top with flavored ice cubes.
*Small pomegranate/beet/allspice ice cubes: Combine 2 cups pomegranate juice, 1/2 cup red beet juice, 3 ounces St. Elizabeth allspice dram and 20 dashes The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas’ bitters in a pitcher. Freeze in ice cube trays.