While he was developing a Route 66–inspired menu for a cocktail overhaul at Pouring Ribbons (25 Avenue B; 917-656-6788), owner Joaquín Simó called on his bartenders, including Lana Gailani, to take part in the creative process. Gailani, who grew up east of Los Angeles, devised the “Murder Country,” a drink inspired by California State Route 138, a stretch of highway as dangerous as it is beautiful. The drink’s color and texture is inspired by the desert, and technically resembles an upside-down martinez or Madam I’m Adam.
“You have the idea, and the fine-tuning takes a long time,” Gailani tells the Voice. At Empellón Cocina, where she began her bartending career, Gailani gained an appreciation for tequilas and mezcals. Building off that experience, she experimented with agaves, blanco tequilas, and sherries before settling on her current recipe. Gailani suggests that her drink serve as more of a session cocktail — tasters will notice that the drink has plenty of flavor, but it’s not overly boozy. It has a pink hue, much like the sunsets Gailani remembers out west. The Murder Country is not served over ice, and it’s not full of citrus, though there’s a hint of grapefruit bitters. Most likely, Gailani’s creation will be underrepresented on other bars’ cocktail menus, but she suggests a few places that will do it justice — Leyenda, Dead Rabbit, and Death and Co.
Murder Country by Lana Gailani
1 ounce Lustau Peninsula Palo Cortado sherry
1 ounce Contratto bianco vermouth
3/4 ounce Calle 23 reposado tequila
1 teaspoon orgeat syrup
2 dashes grapefruit bitters (Gailani suggests Bitter Truth)
Grapefruit oil for garnishing the glass
Add all ingredients into a vessel with ice. Stir and serve in a glass. (Gailani recommends stirring briefly.)