Finely tuned craft cocktails have skyrocketed bartenders to a level where their skill set is just as imperative to an establishment’s success as a cook's. No longer is it about who can make the best Dark and Stormy or Vieux Carre, but who is inventive enough to dissect the classics while implementing new ingredients and putting themselves in an advantageous position. It doesn’t matter how many suspender sets or bowties a mixologist owns, or how curled the tips of their Doc Holliday mustache are, it boils down to understanding the methodology behind the drink.
When Remedy opened as a sister restaurant to HG Supply, the purpose of this restaurant was to offer a bar program of the same unparalleled quality as the food. HG’s beverage director Máté Hartai was to oversee the research and development of Remedy’s small but focused drink list. Growing into a bar program Hartai said is more commonly found along the East Coast, they wanted to take their time without rushing it.
“We didn’t want to open with a drink list that forced the public to choose," he says. "We let the public influence us so we can influence them.”
With the relaunch of Remedy’s bar menu, Hartai took it to the extreme by doing something not found at any other bar in town: the exploration of texture within drinks. Each cocktail is labeled on the menu by texture, so the patrons can choose based on their desire. Creating an environment that captures the feel of the early 20th century, when soda fountain dates were popular, the menu is narrowed down to two options: soda fountain and cocktails.
Under the soda fountain section are non-alcoholic and healthy beverages. In fact, "health by soda" offerings are shrub drinks with an apple cider vinegar base. For the brightly refreshing Ancho Chili Pineapple and crisp Berry Ginger with blueberries and raspberries, the raw ingredients are processed to allow maximum extraction of nutrients. “Orange juice itself doesn’t naturally contain much vitamin C," Hartai says. "All of the vitamins and minerals are actually located in the peel, not the meat. Shrubs originated as an early way to preserve fruit and to provide citrus-like refreshment in the summer when citrus was out of season.”
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Below the indulge wisely portion of the soda fountain drinks, malty textures become more prevalent by taking a turn from the fizzy shrubs offered. These drinks contain a traditional French syrup known as orgeat that is made by combining almond milk with sugar and orange blossom water. “We apply this process to some less-than-traditional flavors such as the Pistachio Orgeat, which is a combination of pistachio milk with raw pumpkin seeds, and the drink Orange Lazarus, which has cashews and orange, creating a full-bodied, velvet-like texture similar to dairy but much lighter in fats and calories.”
The moods of the beverages become more playful in taste and texture when you work your way to the alcoholic side of the menu, where you'll find the gin-based Last Word made with chartreuse, maraschino and lime. It's a prohibition-era cocktail that was wildly popular upon its creation and continues to have a place on modern bar menus nationwide. Usually served shaken — as most citrus-based drinks are, for emulsification — Hartai wanted to present this drink with a variation of texture by stirring the cocktail instead. Without aeration, the flavor’s tones are sharper and bolder than the time-honored classic. Remedy’s Thrown Negroni is another well-tested classic with a modified preparation. “The original Negroni is thrown, which is technique usually seen in coffee and tea preparation," Hartai says. "It very lightly aerates the drink, which tames the bitterness of Campari and accentuates its citrus elements.”
The Sly Claret Snap is where the textures start to get weird. “Claret is the name for red table wines used in cocktails; snap is an older term meaning ‘float,'” Hartai says, beginning to speak like a mad scientist. “The New York sour is a classic eggless sour with cabernet that dries out the finish. We jelly the [wine] with xanthan gum [thickening powder made from the resin of acacia trees, very natural and extremely vegan], which allows the wine to float and not combine with the beverage.” What? Floating wine upon rye whiskey? This cocktail sounds biblical. (They do have a Lazarus Mai Tai, should you feel like raising the dead.)
“We want to keep things approachable and fun rather than high-minded and condescending," Hartai says. "That’s very important to us as well.” The entertainment doesn’t end with jelly. The Date in the Diner Car is a morph cocktail that starts with a delicate base that lacks one ingredient to become either a White Lady or a 20th Century (which was named after a train), the laterr of which comes garnished with Tootsie Rolls. Orange is the missing component that would make the White Lady. If you really want to learn a bit of science, have one of the friendly bar staff pour a carbonated Blue Hawaii for Two that comes with a Lei around the syphon. The coconut cream is made in-house without the chemical emulsifiers or preservatives you would find in the commercial products. The cream takes on carbonation extremely well and forms an edible cloud. The Blue Hawaii originated in Waikiki in '57 and their version gets you from bar to beach in a couple of sips. Now go get lei’d.
Remedy, 2010 Greenville Ave.