The Washington Post

Distilled habanero, lemon ash on menu at Spirits in Black

(Bryan Tetorakis)

Spirits in Black debuted last June, conceived by American Ice barman Patrick Owens, who invites a guest bartender to create a series of metal-themed drinks one night each month. Will (B)Eastman, Andy O and Dirty B spin, uh, tunes.

In keeping with the theme, drink names belie the refinement of the evening’s concoctions. Who’d have thought the Five Finger Death Punch is gilded with the sweetness of viognier and honey syrup? Named for the L.A. metal band with the 2007 debut album, “The Way of the Fist,” the cocktail features distilled habanero made from a rotary evaporator. It’s a device that breaks down compounds by lowering the pressure, Tetorakis explains, then condenses the vapors into a liquid to create what is, essentially, an edible perfume.

“When it comes to honeysuckle, herbs or peppers, the rotary evaporator is a great device,” says Tetorakis of the machine that was among the first kitchen toys installed at Rogue.

At Rogue, he has created what he calls a “tangerine lace,” which is paired with said habanero, honey, lime and Boyd & Blair vodka. The result is the Mace and Lace — so named for its presentation with a side of pepper spray.

Tetorakis first saw the range of distilling possibilities at Grant Achatz’s cocktail bar, The Aviary in Chicago, where three rotary evaporators yield infinite surprises for guests. At Rogue, he makes do with one.

“If you wanted to use it for cooking — say, distilling a consomme — it would take days,” he says. Not to mention, there’s a huge margin of error. “For every 100 experiments, maybe three will yield a result I can use in a cocktail,” Tetorakis explains.

For another drink on the evening’s list, Tetorakis will offer Ashes in Your Mouth: lemon ash, that is. It’s a garnish he learned from Rogue 24 chef, R.J. Cooper, who burns lemon rinds for three to four hours at 400 degrees.

“They end up like briquettes,” he says. Once incinerated, they’re pulverized in a Vitamix.

Tonight, it will be used to flavor a spin on the Violet Fizz, made with Plymouth gin, creme de violette, simple syrup, lemon and egg white. With the ash garnish,

“It has a crazy flavor profile,” he says of the cocktail. “And hey, how much more metal can you get than ashes on your drink?”


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