The Early Start by Alex Negranza, the bar manager at Houston’s March Restaurant, is sure to make a striking impression when you serve it. Muddled sorrel leaf, orgeat and egg white give this aquavit sour a lush, foamy green hue and a silky texture.
While often referred to as a Scandinavian equivalent of gin—it too being a neutral grain spirit flavored with herbs and other botanicals—aquavit producers have more liberty with the ingredients with which to flavor their spirits. Caraway is the most common, but aquavits can be infused with dill, fennel, coriander and other anise flavors. Because of this, using a different aquavit brand can alter the flavor profile of the Early Start. Negranza uses Krogstad aquavit, from Portland, Oregon, as the base of his drink. This readily accessible and moderately priced American aquavit is a popular choice amongst bartenders. However, it can be substituted with another caraway and star anise-forward aquavit.
The savory notes of the spirit are amplified by the addition of a French sorrel leaf, muddled into the drink. Unlike the handful of mint needed for a Mint Julep or Mojito, you’re only going to need one of these potent, herbaceous leaves for the drink, both for its sharp flavor and its verdant color. Lime juice adds acidity and brightness, which is balanced with the addition of orgeat instead of a more commonly used simple syrup. Orgeat is a nut-based syrup, generally made with almonds and often used in tiki bartending in drinks like the Mai Tai. Beyond sweetness, it also adds creaminess.
The silkiness in the Early Start is amplified by the addition of egg whites, which, when vigorously shaken in the drink, add a suave mouthfeel and create a thick foam head. If you don’t eat egg whites, you can substitute it for aquafaba, the water from canned and cooked chickpeas. The subtle vegetal notes of the egg-white replacement work especially well in more savory drinks like the Early Start.
- 1 French sorrel leaf
- 1 1/2 ounces Krogstad aquavit
- 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/2 ounce orgeat
- 1 egg white
- Garnish: red-veined sorrel leaf
Gently muddle the French sorrel leaf in a shaker.
Add the aquavit, lime juice, orgeat and egg white into the shaker and vigorously dry-shake (without ice).
Add ice and shake again until well-chilled.
Double-strain into a chilled coupe.
Garnish with a red-veined sorrel leaf.
RAW EGG WARNING
Consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs poses a risk of food-borne illness.