While it makes sense to cook with olive oil or sesame oil, you may not think to add either of those to cocktails. Luckily for you, bartenders all over the country have—as well as basil oil, lemongrass oil and more. Get ready to enjoy the beautiful fragrances coming off these drinks as you raise them to your mouth.
Can't make it to any of the bars serving these great drinks made with oils? Try making Maribell’s Late Again with rosemary-infused olive oil at home.
Starting his cocktail training while living in Taos, N.M., mixologist Carlos Abeyta loved the flavors imparted in Bloody Marys there. After moving to New York, he couldn't find something similar, so he made his own with familiar flavors but keeping it light and fresh. He chose to use The Botanist gin for its aromatic botanicals, fresh bell pepper juice, lemon juice and a bit of spicy Thai chile oil to give it some gentle heat.
Chef/owner Sarah Grueneberg challenged bar manager Justin Kaderabek to create a cocktail using extra virgin olive oil, an ingredient found in surplus at this year-old Italian spot. He stepped up to the challenge by fat-washing Martin Miller’s gin with slightly peppery Aristaeus Sardinian olive oil, which toned down the gin's botanicals and highlighted the flavors of the olive oil. He then added CH Distillery vodka and Lillet Blanc. It gets stirred and strained into a coupe before being topped with a few drops of Castelvetrano olive oil.
At Michael Toscano's osteria, Le Farfalle, in charming Charleston, S.C., get a taste of the tropics with a Southeast Asian bent with the Thai Colada. The restaurant combines aged rum with pineapple and lime juice, coconut cream and lemongrass in a shaker. It's served in a coupe with a few drops of basil-infused olive oil to offer a creamy, sophisticated take on the Piña Colada.
For anyone who loves a Dirty Gin Martini, this drink is a more interesting take with a lot more going on. It starts with Bombay Sapphire London dry gin, then adds in caper-infused Dolin dry vermouth and four dashes of a 5 percent saline solution. After stirring, it's served in a chilled coupe and topped with three drops of sesame oil and a pinch of ground black pepper.
To offer his customers a better option for a tequila drink that isn't a Margarita or a shot, bartender Colin Carrig came up with the Cinnamon & Spice. He combines three spirits—Cimarrón tequila, Contratto bitter and crème de cacao, then adds house-made cinnamon simple syrup, egg whites, lemon juice, Angostura bitters and five dashes of house-made habanero oil for a spicy kick. All ingredients are first given a dry shake before adding ice, shaking again and double-straining into a rock glass. It's garnished with a brandied cherry, which is also made in-house.
The story goes that chef José Andrés, who owns Bazaar Meat, was at barmini in D.C. with a friend named Gopal. Andres asked the bartender to create a cocktail for his friend, who is of Indian and Chinese descent. The bartender didn't have any Chinese ingredients, so he improvised by using other Asian ingredients: sesame oil and sudachi juice. Because Gopal likes gin, that became the base spirit and, not wanting to exclude Andrés' Spanish heritage, the bartender added amontillado sherry, which played nicely with the sesame oil. Thus the Gopalito, also with Beefeater gin, honey, ginger and lemon juice, was born.
(image: Anthony Mair)
Despite mezcal's surge in popularity, bartender Deidre Webb saw that many of her customers were a bit scared off by the spirit's inherent smokiness. She wanted a mezcal that offered balance and didn't have an overpowering smoke factor, so she chose Bruxo No. 1 espadín for this drink. She boosted the sweet and citrus via pineapple, lemon juice and honey and then included basil oil for a vegetal note. She opted for the oil to avoid having pieces of basil leaf floating in the drink and to have a nice visual contrast in the glass. The cocktail is finished with some cracked black pepper to introduce the smokiness of the mezcal through smell.
Beverage director Mitchell Malnati created the restaurant's signature cocktail with flavors from the South of France in mind. The result is a fresh and herbaceous drink that combines cucumber vodka, blood orange olive oil, egg white, simple syrup, muddled celery, lime juice and blood orange puree. He serves it in a Collins glass with a celery stalk.
Playing around with ideas for tequila infusions, the beverage team at El Toro Blanco decided to infuse El Jimador silver with dill and caraway to create an interesting, fun tequila cocktail that wasn't a Margarita. It's rounded out with cucumber juice, lime and a few droplets of dill oil.
Swing by this classic cocktail bar set in a historic building dating back to 1874 to pick up Maribell's Late Again. The drink, conceived by Reid Lewis, features Ransom Old Tom gin, Don Ciccio & Figli finocchietto (a fennel liqueur that offers anise notes), Dolin Blanc and celery bitters that are topped off with roasted-rosemary-infused Spanish olive oil.
Some of the best ideas come to us in dreams, and that's how Nicolas Torres conjured the Basil Martini. He whipped up some basil oil, combined it with Fords gin, Uncouth Apple Mint vermouth, mezcal and a barspoon of basil syrup. It's topped with a sprig of opal basil and drops of house-made basil oil. It's a 50/50 spirit-to-wine mix balanced with layers of basil that add a nice minerality to the drink.