You haven’t heard from me because a month ago I was in Hawaii, and ever snce then, I’ve been thinking about nothing but Hawaii. While I was in Hawaii — Oahu and Maui, to be precise — we saw the sights, hit the waves, met some sea turtles, and drank. A lot. We visited breweries. We visited distilleries. We visited a freakin’ ton of bars.
Last week, news began to circulate that poorly-made copper Moscow mule mugs can cause food poisoning, and if you have a Moscow mule habit, you should reconsider your choice of vessel.
In my previous entry, I sang the praises of The Garden’s Secret, a unique cocktail found exclusively at Chicago’s The Duck Inn. To recap, The Garden’s Secret is made from a rare Swedish tea and a blend of liquors garnished with the world’s cutest little flower. Here, we’re going to talk about using tea as the base of, and inspiration for, your own signature cocktail.
The Duck Inn is a fairly new yet celebrated spot on Chicago’s Near South Side. The restaurant features a menu with a heavy local focus, and the backyard patio is an unexpected delight. They also have some of the friendliest and most talented bartenders in the city, including a woman named Monika and the award-winning head bartender, Brandon (who doesn’t play into this story at all but still deserves a mention). On our budget, The Duck Inn is best reserved for special occasions, but we try to spend our money locally, and so end up there perhaps more often than we should.
Regional drinks are an interesting cultural phenomenon across the United States. The South has its bizarre Cheerwine, and my friends in Michigan will defend Faygo to the death. And we’re just talking about non-alcoholic drinks — for the purposes of this conversation, we’re not even touching on the craziness of limited edition, regional exclusive craft beers.
Too often, I find myself in my kitchen trying to recreate a cocktail from a bar or restaurant and it just straight-up misses the mark. No matter how closely I watch the bartender, or how much he or she was willing to share information about the craft as my drink was being prepared, some homemade replicas just fall flat. Too sweet, not enough dimension, not enough mouthfeel. At that point, there’s not much I can do to save it… so I simply go in another direction.