➔ Say thanks to the outrageous garnishes on bloody marys – they've paved the way for food accompanying cocktails known as sidecars. These smart and creative eye-catching edible embellishments are accompanying all kinds of cocktails, adding excitement and value. The ultimate food and drink pairing, sidecars provide the bar and kitchen an opportunity to work more closely together, which means sharing ingredients and controlling waste that ultimately leads to a better bottom line. Take a moment to drink in these approaches, but remember that a sidecar doesn't need to be fancy; it just needs to make sense with the cocktail and the concept.
PINEAPPLE AND JALAPENO MARGARITA, $20
At Hotel Indy's Cannonball Lounge in Indianapolis, the caramelized pineapple and jalapeño-infused margarita is garnished with skewered pineapple letters spelling out “Indy,” although any word works with a full set of alphabet cookie cutters. Senior food and beverage manager Chris Underwood has his team cut out pineapple letters just before service to streamline the prep, and they utilize pineapple leaves in the garnish as well. Any pineapple scraps are re purposed in a breakfast fruit bowl. “It's a tribute to the city, and a feast for the eyes,” he says.
tHE CARROT IN THE RYE WITH RYE BREAD FLOWER, $24
Bartender Mark Belle mares-Sullivan pairs rye whiskey with rye bread and a rolled carrot straw at Bezel Cocktail Lounge in Denver. “The drink itself is quite thick for a cocktail with no egg, so it coats your mouth nicely for a bite of something complementary,” he says. “Taking bites of bread between sips calms down the strong flavors of the turmeric cayenne honey and yellow chartreuse.” Drinking out of the carrot adds carrot flavor to each sip and accentuates the carrot-infused rye.
EXTRA CHILLED MARTINI WITH PICKLED CHANTERELLES, $26
For an exceptionally dry and cold martini, Aviram Turgeman, beverage director at Monterey, New York City, freezes the classic cocktail for an hour before serving, then garnishes it with a skewer of lightly pickled chanterelle mushrooms. It's one of the top-selling drinks. “The chanterelle adds an umami element to the palate that together with the saline, creates another layer of complexity,” he says.
MERROIR MARTINI WITH OYSTER, NORI AND TROUT ROE, $30
At Hog Island Oyster Co. in San Francisco, the bivalve gets top billing. The cocktail creates an “aquarium” with purple nori floating in the glass, smoked trout resting atop and a raw oyster on the side. “The inspiration was to showcase multiple forms of merroir in one drink,” says beverage director Saul Ranella. Dehydrated nori is added at the bottom of the rocks glass, rehydrating and unleashing umami flavors. He encourages guests to eat the smoked trout roe off the zested lemon peel to coat the palate with citrus oils and smoky piscine flavor. Next comes a sip of herbaceous, coastal gin before slurping the plump, sweet oyster off its shell. “Your palate has been primed to effectively become a mignonette for the oyster.”
BELL & TORCH BLOODY MARY WITH BLOODY MARY CHIP, $18
Le Salon's Erin Gabriella isn't a bloody mary fan, so the New York City bartender challenged herself to create one that she'd drink. She introduced other veggies into the mix like roasted bell peppers, fresh celery stalks and whole green olives to mellow out the tomato flavor. “I saw how much fiber we had after straining out the juice base and I didn't want to throw it away,” she says. She dehydrated the discards to make a zero-waste bloody mary chip to accompany the cocktail. “The chip is a little sweeter, so it can balance some of the acidity in the cocktail. It took me a few tries to perfect the sugar content – too much, and it's glass: too little, and it's leathery.”