Ziryab, I discovered a silky and remarkably complex cocktail that was also amazingly refreshing, and the only thing I could think of was the Bad News Bears.
In case you've never seen the movie, it is the archetypal underdog story of baseball team made up of all the misfit kids. With some clever coaching, they turn their disadvantages into a trip to the championships. At Ziryab, bar manager Zachary Brian Taylor takes three interesting players, not usually the main spirits in a drink, and turns them into a winning team.
Taylor's inspiration for the drink came in the days leading up to the re-opening of Ziryab, and late-night staff meals that always included yogurt, either alone or in a dish. "I knew needed to make a drink with it, and remembered the second meeting I had with the owner where he poured me my first taste of the wild, anise-heavy arak," says Taylor. After tasting the Pavan, he knew the fruit and floral characteristics would compliment the arak and yogurt in the drink.
The anise heavy musk of the arak (similar to Greek ouzo) gets tamed with the yogurt liqueur (which tastes exactly like you imagine -- tangy and milky), accented by Pavan, a Muscat grape and orange blossom liqueur that tastes remarkably like the color purple. I realize it sounds like unlikely team, but trust me when I say the combination alchemizes into something wonderful. Barely sweet, with hints of licorice, fruit, and acidity and texture from the yogurt, having two or three is easy to do on a sunny day on the front patio.
The drink is named after the clouding effect that occurs when fats held in suspension in alcohol suddenly get shocked out of place by the addition of water. This effect is common in spirits with anise like anisette, ouzo, arak, and absinthe (the French call this processes the louche).
This kind of knowledge is what got Taylor behind the bar. Drawn to the sheer variety of spirits and fascinated by their distinctions and processes, Taylor began to amass a collection of books on bartending and spirits, and decided to go from English major to bartender. "I knew I didn't have much future with just getting an English degree, and I didn't want to get trapped in the academic catacombs of piling on degrees upon degrees," he says.
1 ¼ oz. Arak
1 ¼ oz. Bols Yogurt Liqueur
½ oz. Pavan Liqueur
½ oz. Lemon juice
Cinnamon and star anise for garnish.
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a glass with fresh ice. Garnish with grated cinnamon and a star anise as garnish.
Ziryab, 528 Divisadero (at Fell), 522-0800