By Erin Hollingsworth
Here’s a romantic idea: alcohol decreases
inhibitions and increases spending habits. What’s more,
the tastier and more impressive the drink, the larger the
profit margins and the more the guest will drink. So, for
this year’s Valentine’s Day, fall in love with
the Viagra of the bottom-line – sexy cocktails. »
Bar Chef Junior Merino of The Liquid Chef New York,
Chocolate and Berries
American cocktails have progressed immeasurability from their
predictably pragmatic roots. Said to have come to popularity
during the Prohibition era, the original rise of the American
cocktail, most notably present in New Orleans, was born from
a desire to mask the less-than-desirable taste of bootlegged
liquor. By adding a little fresh juice, stand-by bitters,
muddled herbs or sugar, the too-strong, not-good moonshine
became quaffable, and how they did quaff.
More recently, the cocktail has become an
incontrovertible joke, a vehicle for sorority girls and their
would-be sorority girl mothers to get drunk on boozy, fruity
hangover machines. Frat boys didn’t complain.
That is until now. A resurgence of classic,
simple cocktails has mitigated the sugary, triple sec-laden
cocktail of yesteryear, and with legal, easy to buy alcohol
that actually tastes great, the classics are better than ever.
But, as the American palette has become more sophisticated,
already hooked on the cocktail concept, former sex on the
beach drinkers yield to now ubiquitous Maker’s Manhattans.
Bar Chef Junior Merino’s romantic cocktails
are perfect for the current cocktail milieu, a balance of
classic concepts, crowd-pleasing flavor profiles, and “what’s
in that” intrigue. In “Coming Up Roses,”
for instance, Merino layers rose water with rose syrup and
muddled rose petals, for a depth and intensity of flavor more
often associated with, frankly, food. Chefs know that layering
celery with celery root, celery seed and celery leaves adds
a saturation of flavor, a nuance to that flavor and effectually
captures the essence of that flavor. Merino captures the essence
of the rose in name, ingredient and flavor, making “Coming
Up Roses” the quintessential romantic cocktail; and
his other love potions aren’t half-bad either.