Get a Buzz From This Twist on a Bee's Knees, Infused With Peppercorn and Lavender
A classic Prohibition-era cocktail with a cool update
Though you might think of lemon and honey as seasonings for tea, Kimoto Rooftop Beer Garden's (216 Duffield Street, Brooklyn; 718-858-8940) head bartender Dave Danger prefers the ingredients in a cocktail, if given the choice. Inspired by the classic mixture in the Prohibition-era drink the bee's knees, Danger put a version on his new menu that offers a contemporary twist: a thematically appropriate cocktail to enjoy atop the city's first Asian-inspired rooftop beer garden.
Inspired by Asian flavors, Danger started by infusing Bombay Sapphire East gin with lemongrass and Vietnamese peppercorn. Keeping in mind that he needed honey in the mix in order for the recipe to honor the drink's origins, he opted for one that included lavender. "Lavender gives it a bit more of a flow aspect, a little accent," Danger explains. To ensure the drink wasn't hyper-focused on citrus, he added mezcal for a hint of smokiness, and ginger liqueur for a touch of sweetness.
However, the component that truly launched the drink toward a life of its own was matcha. "Matcha tea was the ingredient you use the absolute least of. Me and the owners and the general manager dumped a little matcha tea in, and it went from being an average cocktail to being — boom — this is awesome!" Danger says. The green tea also helps give the drink, dubbed the "Tranquility," its color and earthy, almost grasslike quality. It's one most drinkers should find comfortable to taste, despite any trepidation about how well matcha and mezcal might mix.
"When I was creating this cocktail I thought it was going to be very sophisticated — and polarizing. The response has been overwhelming," Danger says. Though Danger's original go-to gin joint, Gin Palace, has since shuttered, he loves visiting friends such as Prudence Groube of Jeffrey's Grocery for inspiration. "To get a bee's knees, I'm going to go to my friend's bar."
Tranquility by Dave Danger
2 ounces lemongrass and black peppercorn infused gin (Danger suggests Bombay Sapphire East)*
1/2 ounce Kings Ginger liqueur
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon lavender honey**
1 teaspoon mezcal
¼ teaspoon matcha
Add ingredients into a shaker and shake. Pour into a Collins glass over ice. Stir. Garnish with wheatgrass.
*To infuse the gin: for each 750 mL bottle of gin, peel off the outer layers of three to four lemongrass stalks and cut into pieces. Put in a covered container with a half-cup of Vietnamese black peppercorns and the gin. Store in a cool, dark place for at least 48 hours.
**Lavender honey: Fill a quart container halfway with honey. Top up with boiling water. Add 2 ounces lavender. Let steep for 1 hour then strain.
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