Zentan is offering two black cocktails mixed with activated charcoal


The Black Eye cocktail, available at Zentan. Photo by Stephanie Breijo

 

Jon Harris, the bar manager at Zentan, was developing a new cocktail with black sesame syrup when he realized something was off. “It ended up this weird gray color, so I added activated charcoal to make it black,” Harris says. In addition to giving cocktails a mysterious look, this flavorless supplement makes for a surprise. “It doesn’t say on the menu that the cocktails are black, so most people are bewildered when it comes.” Try one of the two currently available.

Black Eye  $13
You wouldn’t know it to look at it, but this cocktail (made with gin, sake, lemon juice, black sesame syrup, strawberry essence and a pinch of activated charcoal) is refreshingly light. “The black is a contrast to what’s in the glass,” Harris says. “It’s a very Asian-style drink: You have your sweet and sour and your bitter.” It’s garnished with purple orchids, which alludes to the fact that the drink is on the more delicate side.

KimptonZentanCocktailsStephanieBreijo 038COPY
Back Alley $13
This Manhattan with a Hong Kong twist is made with Wild Turkey rye whiskey, sake aged in cedar barrels, activated charcoal and house-made “opium den” bitters, which includes a zesty mix of Chinese five spice, Szechuan peppers, fennel seed, clove, Indonesian long peppers, poppy seeds and black tea. “It’s an homage to Hong Kong’s seedy underbelly in the 1900s, when people were doing opium,” Harris says. “It’s really spicy and powerful.”

Zentan, 1155 14th St. NW; 202-379-4366, zentanrestaurant.com.

 

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Holley Simmons is the dining editor of The Washington Post Express. When she’s not reporting on local restaurants and tastemakers, you can find her sewing a dress from a 1950s pattern or planting a windowsill herb garden. Contact her at holley.simmons@wpost.com.
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Holley Simmons · August 7, 2014