December 10th, 2008

autumnleaf

Mad Science Bartender

As there was no Auria last night, I decided to investigate Craigie on Main (it used to be the Craigie Street Bistrot, but it moved to where La Groceria was). I think I go on more solo adventures when harrock is actually away, as opposed to when he's just busy.

The restaurant is all booked, so I sit at the bar. There are two bartenders, one is clearly the senior, because he has a Vest. I order dinner, and a cocktail with apple and sage and I forget what else, which is very tasty. Then, I watch the bartender make something pretty with a whole grapefruit (half gets mashed into juice, half gets turned into slices, which he carefully and artistically arranges in the glass), with various other things, including some from mysterious plastic squirt bottles.

He asks how everything is, I say it's very good, but what was that other thing he just made? He says it's a mocktail he's been working on, with grapefruit and a little salt to be savory, and maple syrup. Interesting.

After I've been there for a while and it's getting crowded, two more people come in and sit next to me (One looks like Robert Downey Jr, though I bet he wasn't, but it makes for a much better story in my imagination). They're friends of the bartender. He asks what they're in the mood for. One wants something bitter, one is convinced to be in the mood for Chartreuse. He puts together some complicated things, that involve two drops of chocolate mole extract used to coat the glass for the first drink, and the Chartreuse drink is sprayed with a spritz of rosemary extract. They declare their drinks very good. I am fascinated by this whole improvisational method, and the exciting production values involved.

Then, I order dessert: "I've never had a corn grits dessert, so could I try that, and could you make me a crazy drink that matches it?" So he does.

The dessert has some dark fruits, cherry and something else, and the drink is sort of reminscent of that, sort of like new drink:dry sangria::long island iced tea:iced tea, but that's just my lame attempt to describe the taste.

But that's not the best part. The best part is that he starts the whole thing by putting a little bit of something high proof in the glass (like a small cognac glass?) and SETTING IT ON FIRE, letting it burn and turning it around and around so the flames lick around all the inside of the glass for a while, before putting the drink in it. This is to play off of the sugar brulee crackles that are also in the dessert.

So, it tastes like a dry sort of fruity thing, but it smells like sweet autumn smoke. It was astonishing. I spent all dessert smelling my drink, enthralled. I can still almost smell it.