A SCARLET SUMMER: GRACIAS MADRE

By VI NGUYEN
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GRACIAS MADRE—
MORE THAN JUST AN INSTAGRAM OPPORTUNITY

We’ve got to admit, when we’re choosing our next watering hole, “vegan Mexican” isn’t exactly the first descriptor that comes to mind. But Gracias Madre, with its succulent-minded aesthetic, is a delicious destination. We’ve hypothesized that the majik that goes into making something as peculiar as cashew cheese taste good might also serve the same purpose in cocktails.

It’s easy to dismiss the WeHo hotspot’s ethos as being hyper neo-hippie. As is trendy nowadays, the restaurant and bar boasts locally sourced, organic produce, and its own website is littered with fodder for cynics and skeptics (“Welcome to a seat at love’s table.”—really?) Before we roll our eyes though, how about letting the booze do the talking?

Beverage Director Jason Eisner tells us, “We make everything by hand, and we work around the clock, so obviously we love what we do, and we love working with one another.” And it shows. As Eisner is readying our drink, we see his staff join together in its preparation, squeezing lime and placing a finishing garnish atop the drink. It’s not unlike the composition of a well-done cocktail. A masterful mixologist is one who treats his ingredients like teammates, working in tandem to coax the best out of each other. A scent here, a flavor there, and the Estrella del Mar arrives at our table flushed scarlet and tasting of summer.

And what says sunshine and balmy days more than the taste of juicy watermelon? Combined with the kick of muddled jalapeno and mezcal’s potent smokiness, the Estrella is tempered with a little lime and agave nectar. A pinch of salt adds a savory finishing touch, and there you have it—summer in a coupe glass.

ESTRELLA DEL MAR

2 oz. ORGANIC MEZCAL
3/4 oz. FRESH PRESSED LIME JUICE
1/2 oz. AGAVE NECTAR
1 TEASPOON ELDERFLOWER LIQUEUR
2 CUBES OF SEEDLESS WATERMELON
2 SLICES OF FRESH JALAPEÑO
2 DASHES OF LIME BITTERS
1 PINCH OF SEA SALT

In a cocktail shaker, muddle watermelon cubes and Jalapeño slices. Add ice and build the rest of the ingredients in the shaker. Shake well. Double strain (fine strain) into a coupe glass. Garnish with homemade pickled watermelon rind.

photography RACHEL MANY

 

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