Beverages that involve alcohol may not be considered healthy, but a michelada, especially one made with a Mediterranean twist, is a simple, all-natural refresher. For the one served at Timna (109 St. Marks Place; 646-964-5181), beverage director Amir Nathan mixes ingredients such as smoked paprika and fresh lemon to stir his memories of Israel. After spending six years in New York learning how cocktails and food complement one another, Nathan — along with chef Nir Mesika, previously of Zizi Limona — branched out to create a place of their own, where they could introduce riffs on traditional cocktails that speak to their upbringing.
“Cocktails were always a passion of mine,” Nathan tells the Voice. He made it a point to make classic drinks like the corpse reviver and Pimm’s cup once he was able to create his own drink menus. Although Timna doesn’t have a liquor license yet, the team knew a version of a bloody mary would be essential to their opening brunch menu. “A bloody mary has to be something; it’s a part of the restaurant. It’s like an appetizer almost,” Nathan explains. Nathan worked around the challenge of making the drink without vodka by focusing on the ingredients he could use, such as fresh lemon juice and house-made harissa, a chile pepper sauce made with various spices (but without garlic).
Nathan wanted to prepare diners for the food to come, so he created a rim of smoked paprika and salt to hint at some of the spices in store. The first sip of the drink opens with a fresh aroma of preserved lemon, while the harissa delivers sourness and spice, which is cooled by a hit of beer. Though the drink is largely inspired by chef Mesika’s recipes, Nathan credits the cocktails at Prime Meats, Maison Premiere, and Nitecap for bolstering his beverage education.
Moroccan Michelada by Amir Nathan
1 tablespoon smoked paprika salt (for the rim)
2 teaspoons homemade harissa
1 tablespoon homemade preserved lemon peel
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 light lager or pilsner (Timna uses Stigel Goldbrau)
Garnish the rim of a pint glass with smoked paprika salt. In a mixing glass, shake the harissa, preserved lemon, and lemon juice. Shake vigorously. Pour into a pint glass and top with beer. Garnish with a lemon wheel.