Prohibition Cocktails at Broadway by Amar Santana
I have always thought that the transition from summer to fall is the sexiest time of year. The summer is on its last hurrah of sultry weather, but the night brings a cool crisp breeze that makes the hair on your neck stand up like a new lover’s soft touch. When I consider a seasonal cocktail, I want something that will invoke these same emotions.
Candy is Dandy, but Liqueur is Quicker
Fall cocktails are great for all the fellas who are taking their ladies on a date. There is something about the late summer heat providing natural aphrodisiacs, but the cool evening bringing your date next to you to warm up. This past week I sampled the new fall cocktails at Broadway by Amar Santana in Laguna Beach, and I experienced this same cool sexiness from their prohibition cocktails developed by Head Barman Ricky Yarnal.
Ricky Yarna first made us his variation on a classic “fizz” style drink, called “Bank’s Closed.” It is made with Rittenhouse Rye, Amaro Meletti, freshly separated egg whites, fresh ground nutmeg, toasted pecan bitters, with an aromatic tease of lemon juice. Woah! You may say that’s a lot of ingredients! This drink is an example of true craftsmanship, as Ricky Yarma skillfully uses the ingredients to create a deceptively strong cocktail dressed up in herbal, citrus and spicy flavors. The drink has a nice meringue head from the egg whites.
The term “bank’s closed” was popular during the prohibition era and literally means “no kissing.” To all the single fellas out there “without game,” take your date to Broadway and order this drink. The theatrics of separating an egg, freshly grating nutmeg and the shaking of the cocktail tumblers will leave her impressed. By the time she finishes her first drink, she will have developed a buzz and found you interesting, despite the shirt your mom picked out for you. If she drinks two of these cocktails, Ricky just may tell you “bank’s closed, take it to the beach.”
The next cocktail we tried was called “Debs and Dolls,” another reference to speak-easy vernacular that refers to “ debutantes and ladies who were less than debutantes and of lower virtue.” This bright pink drink is made with Sage Spirit Botanical, Don Q Rum, house-squeezed pomegranate juice and agave. This drink was light, floral and juicy and had a nice balance of sugar with a hint of pucker. This drink may turn your lover from a debutante to a doll.
The African Flower cocktail is one of the only drinks that Ricky Yarna did not modify. It too comes directly from the prohibition era. This drink is made with 100-proof Old Fitzgerald Bourbon, white crème de cacao and Amaro Cio Ciaro (herb-based Italian liquor). This is the way bourbon should be enjoyed! The 100 proof Old Fitzgerald held up to the sweetness of the cacao and created a really nice balanced drink.
Bushel Cocktail is a lively mix of Jameson Irish Whiskey, Appleton Rum, Pomme Eau de Vie, toasted pecan, bitter cinnamon syrup and lime. This cocktail has a nice mix of sweet, woodsy, nutty, and spicy flavors. The flavors in this cocktail provided a rush of Thanksgiving dinner flavors! I am sure the pilgrims would have served this cocktail to their guests. This is a nice drink to sip with your lover while nuzzled up in a blanket.
Something a Little Stronger
The Ammunition Cocktail is a variation of a classic cocktail called “Artillery”, which was preferred by members of the British armed forces post WW1. The Ammunition is made with Beefeater Gin, Chai-infused Bianco Vermouth, Miracle Mile Orange Bitters. Woot! I wasn’t sure if I was drinking with the boys over a poker table, or drinking a cup of chai with grandma in her summer cottage. This the flavor profile bounced between the gin on the palate and the chai infused vermouth / bitters on the nose. This cocktail paid homage to the original “Artillery”, but giving it a nice modern twist. If you are on your second drink, don’t forget cocktails only make you “Think” you are smooth.
Chef’s Killjoy – I think it was named because it would kill a chef’s dish if paired incorrectly. This drink is make with Fernet Branca, ginger, lemon and soda. What is Fernet Branca, you may ask? It is similar to Benedictine or Amaro. This liquor is said to have the flavors of “medicine, crushed plants and bitter mud” – it is the Italian version of Jaggermeister. After my first sip, I was daydreaming of running naked through the forest to catch a date with a pine tree. When I woke up, I was sipping a very dramatic and delicious drink that has strong hints of pine and sweet ginger and the effervescence of soda. I would enjoy this drink immensely with kale and bacon crisps. If you start having daydreams of making love to an evergreen, time to call a cab!
Some of the dishes that our drinks were paired with include
Charred Edamame – AKA “leafy green crack” – Edamame is cooked over an open flame to give it a pleasant char and to coat it with house-made limed sea salt. I seriously couldn’t stop eating these things!
Brussels Sprouts — Like many of us, we were told, “you cannot leave the table until you finish your brussels sprouts.” Times have changed; now Chef Santana is showing us how to properly make Brussels sprouts. These muthas are made with a secret sauce , cilantro and Chinese sausage! Dang!
Buttered Poached Shrimp served atop risotto with roasted corn sea urchin puree. Don’t be afraid of the sea urchin puree. It is a beautiful dish, but not as hot as the girl next to me drinking an African Flower.
Seared Maine Sea Scallops with Isreali Couscous Risotto, Summer Squash and Stewed Tomatoes
My Final Thoughts
Some great fall cocktails are available at Broadway by Amar Santana starting October 5th. I really liked Bartender Ricky Yarna’s creativity and nod to prohibition cocktails. I am a firm believer that a restaurant should allow their chef’s and bartenders to innovate the menu by letting them practice their craft. Testing the customer’s limits is what makes for a great dining experience. If you get a chance, I would recommend that you try to take your date to Broadway for a drink and dinner — let me know if these cocktails makes the magic happen.
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