Nojito: The Strawberry Smash
Friday, June 5, 2009
It's Tuesday afternoon, which means Todd Thrasher's lab of libations is bubbling over. A mesh sack of fruit hangs near the bar of his Alexandria speakeasy, PX, its sanguine drippings collecting in a small vat below. Apothecary bottles filled with homemade bitters sit on the windowsill. A potful of ginger is boiling on the bar.
Thrasher, the sommelier for Restaurant Eve and PX, is best known for bringing the spirit of gastronomy to, well, spirits. But when we asked him to deliver a drink to rival the mojito, he opted to channel the simple pleasures of farmers market fruit and herbs.
"Summer is my favorite," he says. "I love going to the market right now; it smells like strawberries. Some of the best strawberries in the world come from right here."
He created the Strawberry Smash, a tart cocktail whose sweetness is tempered by the green notes of rhubarb and purple basil. Hendrick's gin, with its infusion of cucumber and roses, provides subtle botanical notes while syrupy, citrusy French wine Lillet Blanc brings out the basil's floral quality, Thrasher says.
One secret is that mesh sack: Rather than puree the berries, Thrasher strains out the bitter seeds and pulp, and uses the juice. The result is a refined strawberry cocktail that has nothing in common with a daiquiri.
"One of the things I never really liked about a mojito -- and trust me, I love them -- is that they're a salad. There's too much texture to them."
The Strawberry Smash will be served through mid-July.
Columbus and King streets in Alexandria (look for the blue light). Open Wednesday-Saturday, beginning at 7 p.m. Online reservations are advised. Visit eamonnsdublinchipper.com.