Beet Up Your Bourbon: Dirt Candy’s Kentucky Lemonade


Though some old-school drinkers may swear the only liquid that should be added to bourbon is more bourbon, Amanda Cohen is not one to get bogged down by tradition. The owner of Dirt Candy (86 Allen Street; 212-228-7732) wanted to make sure her new vegetarian oasis on Allen Street opened with a bang after moving from the East Village, which is why she created an all-new menu of vegetable-focused cocktails to celebrate her full liquor license.

With years of experience as a chef, Cohen was well aware of which flavor profiles could work really well in a cocktail. Being a fan of bourbon, she knew she needed a vegetable that could hold its own against the spirit, while still allowing the soul of the bourbon to shine.

“The only thing we wanted to do was a beet lemonade. We started out with gin, vodka, and really the bourbon was the sort of spirit that could hold its own,” Cohen told the Voice. The chef also realized that taking the extra step to roast the lemons and beets may take a little more time, but was well worth the effort. “Roasting brings out that extra, caramelized flavor. Caramel pairs really nicely with the bourbon,” Cohen said.

Although Cohen has no plans to take the popular drink off her menu, she believes the Wayland could do right by a lemony beet cocktail, though you may have to call in advance to find out if the bar carries beet juice. The recipe for Dirt Candy’s fresh, veggie-friendly cocktail follows:

Kentucky Lemonade by Amanda Cohen

For the lemonade:
6 lemons, sliced (not wedges)
6 cups water
3/4 cup of sugar
1 vanilla bean

Put the lemons, the water, the sugar, and the vanilla bean into a roasting pan. Roast at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Let cool. Strain and reserve the water.

For the beet juice:
There are two ways to go about incorporating the beet. Either buy a beet, roast it, and puree it in a Vitamix, or just go to your supermarket or juice store and get some beet juice. It’s fine either way; it all just depends on how committed you want to be.

To serve:
1/2 ounce beet juice
1.75 ounce roasted lemonade
2 ounces bourbon

Pour that over ice, then add a splash (just a splash) of 7 Up. Fill the rest of the glass to the rim with soda water.