These 10 cocktails, selected by the editors of Restaurant Hospitality, showcase bartenders’ creative takes on top bar trends. Read on and get inspired. See all the winners >>
La Flama Blanca
Trend: Low-alcohol cocktails
Where to get it: The Black Sheep, Las Vegas
Creator: Andy Hooper, partner
Ingredients: Kai lemongrass-ginger soju, Thai chile-infused simple syrup, lemon juice, pasteurized egg whites, bloomed Thai chile flower.
About the drink: La Flama Blanca pays homage to pop culture’s ultimate “black sheep,” Kenny Powers, from the HBO series “Eastbound & Down.” The cocktail is a balance of the fiery and sweet flavors of Southeast Asia.
A look at the trend: American cocktails are traditionally made to pack a punch with higher-alcohol spirits. But mixologists are creating delicious drinks with lower-alcohol alternatives for drinkers looking for flavor without as much buzz.
For La Flama Blanca at The Black Sheep, partner Andy Hooper sought to create a drink that would complement the restaurant’s Southeast Asian spin on American comfort food.
The answer was a cocktail with Korean soju spiced with lemongrass and ginger. The Kai soju Hooper uses is 24-percent alcohol by volume, lighter than gin, vodka or whiskey, which are usually 40-percent ABV or higher.
To make the drink, a Thai chile is left to “bloom” in an ice-water bath for a few hours. The resulting water is reduced with sugar into a spicy syrup to add to the drink, which is cooled somewhat by egg-white foam.
“By marrying soju with lemongrass and ginger, and the spicy Thai chile, we thought it would give the drink a kick without the kick of alcohol,” said Jon Schwalb, a partner in The Black Sheep.
La Flama Blanca also uses the bloomed Thai chile as a garnish.
“We’ve had a few people try to eat the flower, but it’s not advised,” Schwalb said.