Flavors of the Forest Cocktails: 7 Sips Offering a Taste of the Trees

Bar stars are looking to the wilderness for some of their most innovative new cocktail flavors. They are using a variety of tree components – from wood and bark to flowers and branches. Here are 7 flavors of the forest cocktails branching out from tradition to offer tipplers a taste of the trees.

Betony, New York, New York
Juniper berries have long been used as an accenting component, spicing up brines, providing a botanical backbone to gins, and adding a forest-y flair to game dishes. However, it’s unusual for the coniferous tree to provide the focus flavor. The Grand Cru Cobbler defies convention by featuring it three ways: juniper needle-infused gin, juniper oil, and juniper berries. Make a reservation at Betony.

Flavors of the forest cocktails

Cucina Enoteca, Newport Beach, California
These days, inspired bar types are infusing everything into bourbon – from bacon and tobacco to espresso and basil. Bartender Tucky Dias roots his Arbor Manhattan in tree bark bourbon. He rounds out the woodsy concoction with Amaro Averna, Antica sweet vermouth, and a few dashes of Angostura bitters. Make a reservation at Cucina Enoteca.

Flavors of the Forest Cocktails

American Cut, New York, New York
Order the Plank Smoked Old Fashioned and you’ll get a show, too. After mixing together bitters, simple syrup, and Bulleit bourbon, the bartender quickly torches a maple plank. As the wood smolders, a glass is turned upside down over it. With the smoke still lingering, a large ice cube is added to the glass and the cocktail is poured in with a showy flourish. Make a reservation at American Cut.

Flavors of the Forest Cocktails

Sable Kitchen & Bar, Chicago, Illinois
Spruce up your G&T routine. The Spanish-style gin and tonic – served in a goblet, of course – features Beefeater 24 gin, Q tonic, and fresh cranberries. The cocktail is completed with a few small boughs of spruce tips to reinforce its herbaceous tones. Make a reservation at Sable Kitchen & Bar.

Flavors of the Forest Cocktails

Annex at GreenRiver, Chicago, Illinois
Look into the bottom of the Delicate Refusal and you’ll see a pickled sakura blossom. Over the pink cherry tree blossom, mixologist Julia Momose pours a complex mixture of sotol, tequila blanco, fino sherry, pamplemousse, apricot, verjus blanc, and Peychaud’s Bitters. The resulting cocktail finely balances saline, smoke, acid, fruit, and herb notes. Make a reservation at Annex at GreenRiver.

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Magical Mystery Tour: Behind the Scenes at Minibar by José Andrés

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“This is the part of the day most people don’t ever get to see,” says head chef Josh Hermias, as he ushers me into Minibar by José Andrés, the what-you-see-isn’t-always-what-you-get wonderland of molecular gastronomy and avant-garde cooking. It’s the shining crown jewel of the Spanish-born, James Beard Award-winning chef’s restaurant empire, which includes D.C. standard setters Jaleo, Zaytinya, and Oyamel, China Poblano in Las Vegas, Miami’s Bazaar Mar, and others.

On this late August afternoon, Minibar’s open kitchen, the counter surrounding it where will guests will sit that evening, and the semi-private dining area off to the side – dubbed José’s Table – are all ablaze with activity. (Not much can happen in the incredibly compact, unexposed back area of the restaurant, as there’s only room enough for a small counter, two ovens, an impressively tiny walk-in freezer, and the washing station). Approximately a dozen staffers are getting ready for tonight’s epic epicurean experience when 24 diners will enjoy a 26 to 28-course tasting menu. Hermias estimates it takes in excess of 140 man-hours just to make the six-hour dinner service happen. A crew of half a dozen begins working at 7AM; the last team member doesn’t go home until 3AM the following morning.

Clad in black aprons over white shirts, the cooks are currently prepping an array of components. Wending our way through the kitchen, we see chicken skins frying, chocolate eggshells being poured, and the legs of langoustines being snipped off with a small pair of scissors. One staffer shaves mounds of black truffles. Meanwhile, the orchids that decorate the space during dinner service rest in the window to get some light.

As we’re walking around, a cook presents Hermias and me with slices of super juicy watermelon to approve for use. The rosy wedges will be infused with tequila and Grand Marnier, and then served on a salt block. “It’s like a margarita,” says Hermias, who gives them the thumbs up, “but instead of a salted rim, your plate is the salt.”

A dry erase board catalogs all the work that needs to be done today: 30 marinated rabbits, 26 blowfish, 105 cauliflower leaves; the list goes on. A nearby chalkboard bears a quote from recently departed chef Michel Richard, “People love to get something that looks like one thing and tastes like something totally different. That’s truly magical.”

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In Season: 10 Top Corn Dishes to Order Now

Corn is summer’s comfort food, especially as the sunshine season comes to an end and you want to hang on to its best flavors. Fresh corn on the cob with drippy butter and those plastic metal pronged holders is a #ThrowbackThursday childhood food memory for sure. Fast forward to, well, now, when you’ll find corn has husked its boring boiled reputation and reinvented itself in some dishes you may not  recognize — but will surely want to get to know. Here are 10 top corn dishes to order now — from the classic cob to more creative takes on the yellow summer goddess, such as spicy elote (translation: Mexican street corn).

Slate, New York, New York
Chef Darryl Harmon has introduced Elote to his late summer menu — corn with Ancho-lime spiked sauce and cotija cheese. The Jersey corn comes to this Flatiron District restaurant from a family-owned-and-operated New Jersey farm. Sweet. Make a reservation at Slate.

Top Corn Dishes

The Clam, New York, New York
Think corn-on-the-cob for dummies. It’s called Charred Sweet Corn Off the Cob — basically, it’s sweet corn (taken straight off the cob), charred, and seasoned with some chili, parmesan and a squeeze of lime. Easier to eat and no more corn-stuck-in-teeth Instagram shots. Make a reservation at The Clam.

Top Corn Dishes

Sarsaparilla Club at The Shelbourne, South Beach, Florida
This just-opened American Dim Sum restaurant in the Shelborne Wyndham Grand Hotel South Beach honors the iconic late-summer treat with its Corn 4 Ways dish. It’s grilled sweet corn, cornbread butter, cornbread crumbs and lemon popcorn — a ménage a quatre. Make a reservation at Sarsaparilla Club at The Shelbourne.

Top Corn Dishes

Bleu Boheme, San Diego, California
Executive chef-owner Ken has debuted a twist on traditional pot de crème to his menu, adding fresh corn and blueberries to the French classic. The corn is roasted, the cobs are shucked, and the kernels are pureed and added to the custard mixture. It’s then crowned with fresh blueberry preserves. Voila! Make a reservation at Bleu Boheme.

Top Corn Dishes

Marrow, Indianapolis, Indiana
The elote at this Indy restaurant is dolled up with ancho mayo, cobija chili, and lime. And, by the way, Indiana makes the top-five-states-list for mass production of corn and this year’s crop is the second-largest corn crop in Indiana history (and the season is still youngish.) Now you know. Make a reservation at Marrow.

Top Corn Dishes

Therapy, Las Vegas, Nevada
The Fire Roasted Street Corn here is great therapy for end-of-summer blues. It’s made with fire-roasted corn, obvs, and seasoned with lime aioli, chili pepper, and parmesan cheese. The fresh corn comes from Simoni & Massoni Farms out of Byron, California. Make a reservation at Therapy.

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Produce Playoff 2016 for No Kid Hungry: That’s a Wrap!

Produce Playoff 2016 for No Kid Hungry

This week, the culinary creatives at Betony partnered wth No Kid Hungry to hold the third annual Produce Playoff. After “drafting” their ingredients at the Union Square Greenmarket, some of the world’s finest chefs and beverage experts, including event founders Bryce Shuman and Eamon Rockey (Betony), Bo Bech (Geist), Daniel Burns (Luksus), Flynn McGarry (Eureka), Danielle-Innes (Cosme), Mina Pizzaro (Betony), Leo Robitshcek (The NoMad), Caleb Ganzer (Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels), and Dean Fuerth (Betony), gathered to craft dishes and drinks that showcased their picks in the most delicious ways. More than $75,000 was raised over the course of the evening.

If you missed it, photographer Simon Lewis was on hand to document the prep, the fun, the food, and the spirits. Check out the slideshow below.

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