Ian Kearney, beverage director at the Daisy (1641 Second Avenue; 646-964-5756), admits that a drink combining elderflower liqueur and raspberry might sound a little weird. However, when tasked with creating a vodka-based drink for the new agave spirits-focused gastropub, Kearney found himself drawn to these two ingredients. (Because you know there’s always that one friend who doesn’t feel like tequila or mezcal.)
Kearney didn’t want to do another standard sweet- or fruit-focused vodka drink, but he still wanted to keep that raspberry-and-floral flavor. After trying a variety of combinations that didn’t create the lasting impact necessary to score a spot on the Daisy’s menu, Kearney had a vision one night. “I’m going to make this drink taste like salad,” he thought.
The missing component? Red wine vinegar.
After grabbing a bottle from the kitchen, Kearney used red wine vinegar in the drink and found it added the “tickle” that gives a cocktail that additional, unforgettable element. Red wine vinegar was also chosen because of its grape-like taste and color (as opposed to apple cider vinegar).
“If they try [the Vodka Monaco], and they like it — the rest of the cocktails will be a lot more approachable,” Kearney says.
The cocktail itself is, as one might expect, pungent upon the first whiff. To balance and brighten up the acidity, Kearney added a lemon twist and a cucumber for a mellow, refreshing dive into the heart of the cocktail. Though a few guests may pause when learning vinegar is a part of the cocktail, Kearney knows that vodka is the most approachable spirit out there for a majority of drinkers. That alone should be enough to entice people to give the Vodka Monaco a try.
“I wanted this drink to appeal to people who really love vodka and to those who are interested in a more dynamic cocktail,” he explains.
Developing the drink made lasting impact on Kearney’s perspective of what flavor combinations are winners. “My observation of vinaigrettes is a lot more serious,” notes Kearney, who thinks the funkiness of red wine vinegar could be a go-to ingredient in his future drinks.
Vodka Monaco, by the Daisy’s Ian Kearney
1.5 oz Tito’s Vodka
.75 oz St. Germain
.25 oz Crème de Framboise (Kearney uses Giffard)
.25 oz red wine vinegar
Muddled cucumber slices
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain over ice in a rocks glass (pictured above). For garnishes, slice cucumber and a lemon peel for a little extra expression.