Fortunately, hanging around in the food scene for years has allowed me to become familiar with a lot of talented people that work all aspects of the food/drink service industry. I'm not just interested in the plate in front of me, but I love knowing the people back of the house to the front who make it happen.
I love sitting at the bar too; finding a new beer or wine to enjoy and once in a while a fancy drink. You probably guessed from a quick glance of this post this is going to be about cocktails and you would be correct. I'm going to tell you how I got to drink a bunch of them one night and show you what they were.
My journey into an evening of cocktail sampling began one warm evening in Norfolk, VA. I drove Shelby down to a new Italian restaurant called Leone's so she could meet up with "The Ladies." After I creeped on them a little bit, taking photos, chatting, etc... I thought they should have their girl time so I left for the car. I needed to run some stuff to a chef I know down the way and I had time to burn. While I was walking down Granby St. I was spotted by another guy I know named Josh Seaburg. I wrote about him a couple of years ago when he was at another shop.
After spying me he messaged me and asked if I would be interested in trying out his new drink menu he created for Saltine, one of three new hot spots in the Hilton Norfolk The Main. Saltine, a seafood restaurant, has a beautiful bar on the ground level of the hotel that allows you to do some serious people watching - everyone coming into the large hotel lobby and people on the street.
Shelby told me, that her mother (Hi Nana!) told her, it is rude to turn down a drink so I accepted happily. After I ran my errand I made my way to Saltine, ready to be wow'ed. Josh has put in his dues and is serious about his drinks. He pays attention to detail and it's the small things that make the whole.
The menu, at the time, had not been tested by a layman as myself and I was ordered to give him feedback. Lucky me!
Attention! I'm just going to say right off the bat that the presentation of all the drinks was beautiful. Figured I'd add that caveat at the beginning so I didn't have to keep saying it throughout the post.
We started out with a White Julep - Wasmund’s peach-smoke bourbon mash, mint, simple syrup. This one packed a punch but was refreshing, loved all the ice.
Kuh-Shah-Suh (Josh explains the name is the phonetic spelling of the main ingredient Cachaça) This is made from pineapple infused Cachaça, lime, simple syrup, winter melon bitters, and garnished with dragon fruit. This was a neat, it even had a little heat on the end. While he was making it he gave the glass a spritz of green Chartreuse.
Western Medicine - Belle Isle Honey Habanero, lemon, and ginger syrup. It's garnished with candied ginger - when available. Shelby will love this one!
The Rosetta Toned was served in nice stemware and had a pleasant, sweet finish. It's made with Flor de Cana extra dry rum, lime, house strawberry cordial, Absinthe, and coriander. I'm a fan of rum!
The classic Piña Coloda, not much to say other than it was damn tasty and he didn't put it in his shirt pocket. Maybe next time!
(Shirt pocket reference here.)
The Vida Bandida - Vida Mezcal, dry Curacao, lime, Ignition Tincture, bitters. This was different, neat. Mezcal drinkers would like this, even if you don't like mezcal, try it anyway. Thug Life.
Cleaver Club is fun to watch being made. It is a mixture of Beefeater Gin, lemon, and nitro-raspberries. Josh busts out the nitro to prep the glass and it looks highly technical. The name of the drink, and the drink itself, pay homage to the classic cocktail The Clover Club.
The Audible Sigh was fancy and was garnished with fresh Passionfruit - Ketel One, passionfruit, lime, sparkling rosé, hibiscus/acai bitters. All the cool, trendy stuff in one drink, you might hear Josh give an audible sigh if you ask for him to make you one. It's worth the side-eye though, it's pretty tasty.
Bet you thought I would drink each one to the finish? Maybe I did...
I just wanted to give Josh a shout out for letting me try all these delicious cocktails and give him feedback on them. I think I'll be swinging by again tonight to revisit one or two of these. "The Ladies" are meeting there and I always crash a party.