Friday, June 3, 2011

Bourbon Steak's "Is He Sharpe"

The 2011 RAMMY Awards nominations for cocktails are out so I thought I would check out the finalists for the Mixology/Beverage Program. In no particular order I have set out to give them all a try. My first stop was Bourbon Steak to try "Is He Sharpe?".

Immediately when I arrived I was greeted by bartender JP Caceres who was excited to make me their signature cocktail. I have to say it was one of the most interesting and unique preparations I had ever seen. I get really excited when savory ingredients are incorporated into cocktails so my eyes widened when he took about a dozen pink peppercorns, threw them in a glass, pulled out a torch (like the kind used on Crème brûlée) and began toasting the peppercorns. He said this is done to enhance their aroma, flavor and release essential oils. He then took a muddler and lightly crushed the peppercorns, added black tea, lime juice and house-made vanilla syrup. Then came the Cruzan 9 Rum. Head bartender Duane Sylvestre was nice enough to come by the bar and explained that he chose this particular rum as the nine spices used in its production (vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, mace, allspice, pepper, and juniper) play well with the other ingredients. JP slid over a straight tasting of the rum and it was extraordinarily smooth with the vanilla and ginger flow filling my taste buds combined with a playful, peppery zing. JP combined the ingredients with ice, gave it a good shake and strained it into a rocks glass with fresh ice and garnished it with a twist of lime.

"Is He Sharpe?" had an incredibly light and refreshing texture with a clean finish - a perfect summer drink. Its color was similar to an amber ice tea. I didn't pick up any of the freshly-toasted peppercorn in the aroma but definitely got a burst of vanilla and spice from the syrup and rum when I lifted it to my nose. As I took my first sip the peppercorns came through acting like a mild element of cinnamon - not as robust as I had expected, but it enhanced the vanilla and ginger flavors of the rum. The tea leveled the drink giving it a lightness, adding an earthy dynamic but may have watered it down a tad. The lime was a perfect use of citrus bringing a tropical touch and some acidic balance. Overall "Is he Sharpe?" was a well-rounded cocktail with soothing flavors that would brighten any mood. Beyond its preparation, it really didn't press the envelope with challenging flavors but still left you wanting more. It went down quick - maybe a bit too quick. In no time it was empty.

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