Made in Miami
Made-from-scratch ingredients make the difference in a great cocktail
Homemade ingredients set many handcrafted cocktails apart from one-dimensional duds in Miami.
The recent popularity of homemade bitters, preserves and syrups at Miami bars is due in part to wildly creative and inspired bartenders. Paul Sevigny of The Florida Room at Delano is one such bartender who is obsessed with being in complete control of his drinks.
“I rely on my own taste buds and talents to manipulate the flavors. This helps me balance the cocktails,” Sevigny said.
Ah, the search for balance. This all-too-familiar pastime in cocktail culture is only achieved by regulating the sweet and sour elements in every drink. The more balanced the cocktail, the more layers or ingredients you can add.
If you’re at all interested in sublime nightlife, you’ve surely stopped into The Florida Room, one of the first legit cocktail lounges in town. Revisit this iconic gem to test Sevigny’s theory with “A Day in Capri.” This refreshing cocktail features homemade apricot preserves that he painstakingly slow-roasts at home, along with his homemade lavender bitters, and homemade thyme-infused honey syrup -- among other fabulous treats.
Lively discussions about well-balanced cocktails invariably involve bitters, the flavoring agent that helps most mixologists justify their involved cocktails. Gabriel Orta and Elad Zvi of Bar Lab are from the DIY camp, citing a need to add an unexpected flare to their recipes.
“We make our own bitters at home to get something different than the manufactured brands. It’s not that our bitters are better, we’re just not looking for the typical flavors that are always available,” said Orta.
You won’t find their chai tea bitters, curry bitters, smoked bacon bitters, or their cardamom and celery bitters on store shelves.
Ryan Goodspeed, the mixologist behind the bar at the renowned Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, says it’s more inspiring to work at home on his own culinary-centric ingredients.
He’s big on homemade syrups like the cinnamon vanilla syrup that he pairs with a floral rum and a rare seasonal, tropical fruit called Annona that has a playful apple, citrus flavor. The result is a wonderfully aromatic and balanced drink that induces the happiness you get from a piece of old school apple pie.
Goodspeed says the homemade ingredients are not meant to dominate the cocktail, but to help the bartender make it more dynamic and delicious.
There’s no going back now.
- You can find Paul Sevigny making “A Day in Capri” at The Florida Room at Delano, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, 1685 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-674-6152
- Visit the Bar Lab team at Living Room at the W, 2201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-938-3000
- Try Ryan Goodspeed’s Annona cocktail before it goes out of season at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, Wednesday – Saturday, 130 NE 40th St., Miami, 305-573-5550
A Day In Capri
- 1 bar spoon of homemade apricot preserves
- 3 drops of homemade lavender bitters
- 1 oz Disaronno
- 1 oz Bacardi 8 rum
- .75 oz fresh lemon juice
- .5 oz thyme-infused honey syrup
Add ingredients to mixing glass. Shake and strain over ice in a highball glass. Garnish with sprig of fresh thyme.
- 2 ounces Rhum JM Blanc
- 2 ounces fresh annona, pulped, blended and strained
- 1 ounce Cinnamon-Vanilla Syrup (recipe below)
- Dash of heavy cream
- 1 candied ginger wheel
In a rocks glass combine ingredients over ice and shake. Garnish with a skewered ginger wheel.
Bitters are flavor enhancers that mixologists use to create well-balanced cocktails. We don’t suggest trying this at home, but if you dare:
- Pick your spices
- Add a neutral grain spirit and a bitter agent/root
- Soak for a couple weeks with orange and lemon peels
- Taste every 5 days
- If it’s not too bitter, distill it in a pot still after 10 – 15 days.
DIY: Cinnamon-Vanilla Syrup
1 cinnamon stick
2 vanilla beans, split
3 cups sugar
- Pre-heat oven to 200 °F
- Place cinnamon stick and vanilla beans on a baking sheet in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes and warm through, being careful not to cook
- Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Add cinnamon and vanilla, lower heat, and simmer for 10 minutes
- Remove from heat and let cool
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