Friday, May 4, 2012

Thinking of Drinking: Cedar's Sunday Cocktail Experience

The Southern Senator
Cedar's second Sunday Experience made a splash with it's focus on cocktails.  The class, a brainchild of "bar chef" Matt Perkins and executive chef Aaron McCloud, educated guests on Prohibition-era inspired cocktails with small plate pairings.  Guests were treated to five distinct cocktails, cocktail-inspired small plates, interactive demonstrations and answers to their burning inquiries.

The Uziel
The class gave guests an opportunity to taste a variety of the cocktails featured on Cedar's bar menu and a full range of flavor: sweet, spicy, savory, sour, tart, tangy and so much more.  The menu included:

The Uziel with house made grapefruit-infused vodka, local honey, and fresh-squeezed lemon juice served with Asparagus, Lemon Custard, and Preserved Lemon Tuile,

The Southern Senator with ginger puree and fresh-squeezed lemon juice paired with a Smoked Duck Mousseline with Fava Beans, Watercress, and drizzled with Bacon Vinaigrette,

The Crimson Slipper with Pyrat Rum, Campari, Cointreau, a dash or two of Peychaud’s bitters, with a lemon twist accompanied by a Fresh Bay Scallop Ceviche, Avocado, and Pancetta,

The Therapist with Silver Tree Vodka, Domain de Canton, two dashes of Chocolate Mole Bitters and espresso beans complimented by Martin’s Angus Beef, Mole Pearl Onions, Honey Carrots, Pumpernickel Tuile,

Ward 8 with Remy Martin VSOP, a splash of Chambord and lemon juice, with cranberry juice paired with a Strawberry Chiffon, Black Pepper Meringue, with Verbena Sorbet.

My favorites were the Uziel pairing and the Therapist.  The Uziel was light and tart, the grapefruit infused vodka combined with lemon juice and a local honey from Rocky Ridge Farm near Harper's Ferry, WV.  The smell of citrus highlighted the freshness of the asparagus and the dessert-like lemon custard which was surprisingly savory.  I really enjoyed the combination of the creamy custard with the crunch of the asparagus and the preserved lemon tuile chip.  These flavors paired well with the drink and I would definitely enjoy this pairing on a hot humid day, like the DC area is inclined to have late June, July and August.

Bar Chef Matt Perkins demonstrates The Therapist
We were lucky enough to have the Therapist demonstrated.  The espresso, chocolate mole and vodka imply a dessert drink but the Therapist is a true cocktail, standing up to the beef and pumpernickel quite nicely.  I could smell the caramelized onions and appreciated the more subtle layers of flavor inherent in the sauces and mole.  Domain de Canton is a ginger liqueur that goes fantastically well with the chocolate mole.  Personally, I love the heat ginger and chocolate bring to a savory dish and it really makes this cocktail a standout.

The Therapist
Ginger also plays a prominent role in the Southern Senator; it reminded me of some of the sweet teas I've had with a noticeable adult twist.  Served on ice, the Southern Senator is a bourbon drinker's drink, with hints of lemon.  The ginger puree is made in house and the drink is inspired by the tastes of a certain Southern Senator.  
Angus beef with Chocolate Mole
Bar Chef Matt also demonstrated the Crimson Slipper.  This cocktail is not for the faint of heart; its red color and appearances are deceiving as the Crimson Slipper is all alcohols.  Paired with an excellent scallop ceviche, the oils from the lemon twist line the glass and accent the citrus flavors; the pancetta and avocado help coat your tongue from the heat of the peppers.

The Crimson Slipper
Scallop Ceviche
For the dessert course, the class tasted a Ward 8, reportedly a favorite of former DC Mayor Marion Berry, which was sweet and spicy.  The fruity notes of the strawberry chiffon went well with the Ward 8 without being over overpoweringly sweet, the air filled and crunchy black pepper meringue offered a nice texture and complimentary spiciness to the overall experience.

Ward 8
Most enjoyable about the class was the discourse and education about cocktails provided by Bar Chef Matt.  I learned a lot about cocktail composition and making food in a supporting role.  The reverse pairing is a hot new trend and I hope to put some of the things I learned into practice.  The Sunday Experience really opened my eyes to a new opportunity of cocktail pairings.  If you missed this class, make sure to check Cedar's website for more Sunday experiences.

Strawberry Chiffon with Kiwi

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