Let the season’s freshest farmer’s market ingredients inspire your cocktail creations.
“We’re in this spring-summer transition right now,” says Jesse Mychals of Denver’s Row 14 Wine Bar & Bistro. “Yesterday I planted two heirloom tomato plants in the backyard, and it got me in the mood for summer. To me, heirloom tomatoes make me think of farmer’s markets.”
A self-proclaimed rule-breaker when it comes to libations, Mychals says he is bored by pre-Prohibition cocktails. He’d rather create something from scratch instead of a take on something that’s been done over and over again. Like many noteworthy bartenders and mixologists, Mychals is inspired by farmer’s markets. “They have super fresh ingredients right there in your face,” he says. He often lets these ingredients guide the creation of new cocktails.
Mychals approaches cocktail-making with openness, and the seasonal ingredients he uses always put him in a creative frame of mind. Today that creativity and openness is matched by an excitement about the upcoming season.
The result: a vividly colorful and ultra-fresh Heirloom Tomato Mojito:
1 heirloom tomato, sliced
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1 slice jalapeño
1/4 ounce black pepper basil syrup
5 basil leaves
2 ounces Hendrick’s Gin
1/4 ounce citrus champagne vinegar
Muddle the tomato, jalapeño, lime juice and syrup. Add basil leaves, ice, and gin. Shake well. Top with champagne vinegar.
“When somebody sees this cocktail, they are going to get in that summery mood,” says Mychals. Now he’s fired up about summer and farmer’s markets and the endless possibilities for new cocktails. “I’m going to make you another one of my Mojitos,” he says giddily. He pulls out kaffir lime leaves, fresh mint, and a corrainder honey gastrique that he recently made. “If somebody said, ‘make your best Mojito,’” he says, “This would be the one.”
We can only hope that all bartenders are feeling this creative when they make their cocktails. Mychals blends his drinks with a lot of excitement, leaving his guests just as inspired, and even giddy, as he is.