Chefs have earned the rock-star status over the last decade, and the next wave of talent to travel the globe and garner a massive following? Bartenders, like those of Road Soda Bar. This Airstream-turned-bar tours around the country, predominately to music festivals, to serve artisanal cocktails on the fly. While at BottleRock this weekend, I beelined my way over to the aluminum trailer, thirsty for a margarita and hardly expecting the experience to transfix me. But it did. I ordered a Vanishing Point and gasped when the bartender poured the drink from a tap and started prancing in place when he garnished the frothy drink with a strawberry gummy. I took a sip and couldn't believe my taste buds. This wasn't some ordinary strawberry margarita — this was next level. Subtly sweet and floral from the strawberries, slightly smoky and spicy with a salty finish. I had to know the secret.
I sat inside the souped-up Airstream with the cofounder of the bar Mark "Wisey" Wiseberg, an engineer who used his 10-plus years of running music festivals to develop this moving bar concept. People love craft cocktails but don't really want to wait for one in a music festival setting, inspiring him to devise a solution. His team handcrafts everything in bulk (all the juices, syrups, bitters, etc.) and stores the cocktails in kegs. Dispensing them through a keg simultaneously aerates and stirs the cocktails, so they taste fresh. He then pulled out his laptop and showed me the recipe, typed out on a spreadsheet. Wisey has input various other calculations, and with a push of a button, the team can easily multiply the ingredient measurements to serve a large crowd. I definitely plan on implementing a similar method to take the struggle out of prepping for pitcher drinks.
As for the recipes, they are as fine-tuned as the back end of this operation. Ben Scorah, the other cofounder, dreams them up. First, the spirits. This recipe calls for Don Julio Blanco. Wisey swears by the stuff. "That's what we drink after we close." The drink also calls for Ancho Reyes Verde Liqueur, made from fire-roasted poblano chiles. It offers a complex charred flavor and finishes with an herbaceous heat that tastes like desert Summers. The strawberry syrup is made from sous-viding strawberries, sugar, and water for eight hours submerged in 145°F water. The cocktail isn't complete without a dash of Tiki Bitters (cinnamon, allspice, and other West Indies spices) and a pinch of salt. While I don't know how realistic it is for me to ever sous-vide my own strawberry syrup, I definitely intend to stock my bar with all of the other ingredients — I must re-create this cocktail and revisit good memories of the music festival all Summer long.
*If you don't have a sous-vide, try this strawberry simple syrup recipe made on the stovetop.
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail mixer with ice. Shake until chilled and frothy.
- Pour into a cup and garnish with a strawberry gummy.
- Drinks, Cocktails
- 1 cocktail