Savory cocktails as a whole have never made the kinds of inroads that other cocktails have. If you find one on a menu, it's usually a Bloody Mary or a variation on one, but at Rickhouse general manager Dan Chavez Stahl has successfully does something different.
The Red Dawn ($11, blanco tequila, beet-cilantro-habañero shrub, Cynar artichoke liqueur) manages to fully celebrate vegetables without tasting like a glass of salad.
The earthiness of the beets gets a nice boost of lively acidity and spice from the balsamic that melds seamlessly with the herbal and dark vegetal Cynar. The cilantro adds more perfume than flavor, so if you're adverse to the herb, simply cast it from the glass. There is some sweetness, but it is all about the veggies.
Stahl developed the drink as a response to all the savory cocktail requests at the bar, but he wanted something with the versatility that would be enjoyed either during the day or at night. For him, creating a shrub (a steeped vinegar, sugar, and fruit or vegetable tincture) seemed like the perfect way to achieve this. "With the bright acidity from the vinegar and the juiciness from the beet, the rest was layering complimenting flavors on top," says Stahl. "The crimson color was the inspiration for the name plus the versatility it had for being a brunch or nighttime drink."
"It also didn't hurt that it's the name of an awesome movie."
If only enjoying five servings a day was easy as having a few of these cocktails.
By Dan Chavez Stahl
2 oz. Blanco Tequila
¾ oz. Beet-Cilantro-Habañero Shrub*
¼ oz. Cynar
Add all ingredients into a twelve ounce Collins glass. Pack with crushed ice. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.
4 cups very thinly sliced red beets
4 cups white sugar
4 cups cilantro, coarsely chopped
Habañero tincture**, to taste
Add sugar to beets, stir well to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours. Stir thoroughly to incorporate any sugar that may have settled. Add cilantro and stir well. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours. Strain solids out of resulting syrup. Measure syrup; add an equal amount of vinegar and stir until all of the sugar has dissolved. Yields approximately 4 cups.
1 oz. whole, dried habañero
8 oz. neutral, high proof alcohol, such as Everclear
Add habañero to alcohol in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Allow to steep for at least 24 hours. When desired flavor is reached, remove habañero. Add tincture till desired heat and flavor is reached.
Rickhouse, 246 Kearny (at Bush), 398-2827