One sip and the flavors are instantly recognizable, yet hard to believe. How could carrot balance with elements like lime and egg white? While the idea of savory cocktails is nothing new, the inventive combinations and processes that bartenders use are becoming increasingly refined, to the benefit of patrons. At the recently opened Kat & Theo in NYC’s Flatiron district, an unlikely favorite amongst customers is its carrot-driven egg-white sour, the Roger Dodger, which combines cinnamon- and clove-infused Żubrówka vodka, carrot shrub, ginger syrup, lime and thyme oil.
“Years ago, you couldn’t give away a drink with egg white in it,” says head bartender Michael Timmons. Perhaps it’s the growing prevalence of juicing that has guests so eager to drink their veggies — some may associate this delightfully smooth and intriguing cocktail with their healthful aspirations. Though it uses savory ingredients, the Rodger Dodger does not sacrifice the right amount of sweetness expected in a sour, with the dry, foamy texture of the egg white helping to even out any sharpness. Timmons adds, “I really like the idea of savory and having these more robust flavors that go well with food, which was the idea behind this project.”
Collaborations between the kitchen and the bar are key to fostering this type of experimentation with unconventional drink flavors, finding the right viscosity and having the ability to whip up a batch of thyme oil, as opposed to just using a fresh sprig as a garnish. As bartenders continue to push the boundaries and customers’ palates evolve to enjoy bitter and savory notes, it’s clear bartenders will want to contrast any sweetness with herbal, vegetal and salty properties. When done well, the unexpected can bring exciting results.
Rodger Dodger Cocktail
Servings: 1 cocktail
1 ounce cinnamon-infused Żubrówka vodka
1 1/4 ounces carrot shrub
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce ginger syrup
1/4 ounce Velvet Falernum liqueur
1 egg white
For the carrot shrub:
- Use a food processor to finely chop 4 cups for firmly packed unblanched carrots.
- Combine with one cup of carrot juice (use the extractor), 1 1/2 cups regular sugar and 1 cup Moscadet vinegar.
- Put all components in a Ziploc bag and let sit at room temp until sugar is dissolved and syrup forms (at least 24 hours).
- Strain and refrigerate for later use.
For the ginger syrup:
- Take 1 1/2 cups of water and 1 firmly packed cup of finely chopped ginger (use a robot coupe) and bring to a boil.
- Cover for two minutes and remove from heat. Let stand, still covered, for at least two hours (preferably overnight).
- Strain through a chinois, pressing the ginger to extract all the juice and water.
- Measure out the extracted juice and add one cup of turbinado sugar per cup. Mix thoroughly. Keep refrigerated.
For the thyme oil:
- Combine 1 part blanched thyme with 1/2 part grapeseed oil.
- Firmly pack blanched thyme into a Vitamix, add grapeseed oil and blend together until everything is pureed.
- Add more grapeseed oil to blend easier as needed, but use discretion and minute increments. It should yield a paste-like consistency.
- Slowly strain mixture with a cheesecloth and chinois overnight in refrigerator.
- Freeze the large batch of oil and use only a small squeeze bottle at a time to help sustain chlorophyll green coloring.
For the Vietnamese Żubrówka infusion:
- Combine 30 grams of ground cinnamon and 1 liter bottle, using an electronic scale.
- Rebottle and store for later use.
- Combine liquid ingredients (except thyme oil) into a small shaker tin and separately the egg white into a large tin.
- Shake egg white and liquids together without ice for 10 seconds, then add ice to the tins and shake again for 10 seconds.
- Strain into a chilled sour glass and garnish with a several dashes of thyme oil across the foam.
Prep time: 5 minutes (not including ingredient preparations)