The Drink: The Celery and Smoke

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There aren’t many papayas in Boise. Or lychees. Or guavas, rambutans, dragonfruit, or guanabanas (whatever that is). As a consequence, at the bar we don’t do much along the lines of the tropical drinks that people associate with laid-back summer sipping. Its not that tropical drinks are bad. They’re only bad when badly made (which, I admit, is most of the time). It’s that it just doesn’t feel right to make a drink with passionfruit when you’re 700 miles from the closest beach with a palm tree.

A lot of the appeal of tropical fruits in drinks is that the flavors are exotic. The best of the genre are both refreshing and unfamiliar, delicious but hard to describe. It’s an effect that compels another sip as much because the drink is interesting as because it tastes good. But exotic ingredients are not required to achieve the effect. The familiar in an unusual context can be just as exotic as anything.

Case and point: The Celery and Smoke.

I don’t remember why a vegetable juicer ended up at the bar, or why I decided to put through a celery bunch. Nor do I remember why I thought to make a cocktail with celery juice, tequila, lime and mezcal. But I’m glad I did. One of the more unusual sounding beverages to make it onto the menu at the Modern is also one of our very best. When you take a sip, the taste starts out in the well-trodden territory of tequila and lime, but soon a savory celery taste comes to the fore and is followed by a subtle smokey flavor. It’s unusual. It’s refreshing. And it’s really good. I’d even drink one on a beach under a palm tree.

Celery and Smoke

  •  1.5 oz blanco tequila
  • .75 oz freshly extracted celery juice
  • .5 oz fresh lime juice
  • .5 oz agave nectar, diluted 1:1 with water
  • 1 tsp Del Maguey Chichicapa mezcal

Shake and strain into a tumbler filled with ice.

Some notes on ingredients:

- Most 100% agave blanco tequilas will work here, but I particularly like it with Chimayo blanco, which is also quite inexpensive

- Agave nectars vary in sweetness, so you may need to adjust the quantity you use.

- Del Maguey Chichicapa mezcal is a super-smoky Oaxacan mezcal and it’s essential to this drink. It is not cheap. But it is really good. Wait till payday if you have to. It’s worth it.

About our Bartender – Michael Bowers is the Head Bartender at the Modern Hotel and Bar in Boise, Idaho.  His patrons know him for the uncanny precision with which he tends his bar.  Michael’s cocktails have been noted by, among others, Food and Wine, Sunset Magazine, GQ, and the New York Times.  See more in The Drink archive.