Indian Summer at Adrift
Last Autumn, Paul Larkin was playing around with cocktail recipes for a new drink menu at Adrift, experimenting with flavors in the South Broadway bar's tiny kitchen as the line cooks were setting up for dinner service. They told him to make a drink out of the ingredients that were piled up on their prep tables: cucumber, mint, ginger, strawberries. He combined those with an herbaceous New World gin and a spicy liqueur that he made — and the kitchen staff loved it. The recipe didn’t have a name until one evening, while walking to work, Larkin reflected upon how the warm summer days had extended long into November. He called his cocktail Indian Summer ($8), and it turned out to be so popular that it remained on Adrift’s menu throughout the winter months — and might even remain available into the upcoming summer months, too.
Here’s what he put together in the kitchen:
2 ounces Hendrick’s gin
.75 ounces cucumber-jalapeño simple syrup
.75 ounces strawberry purée
.5 ounces housemade Falernum
6 to 8 mint leaves
“I basically threw some things together,” Larkin explains. His inspiration for the name of the cocktail came to him while walking to work on that beautiful Indian-summer evening. “I wanted something that would capture the feel of the long summer we were in fact experiencing,” he says.
Behind the bar, Larkin likes to present guests with ingredients they might not like, but in a way that makes them change their mind. Gin is one such ingredient. “I chose Hendrick’s because it already has cucumber in it,” he explains. Hendrick's gin also contains notes of rose in addition to gin's typical juniper flavor. “I really wanted to accentuate the freshness of cucumbers,” he continues. “I think it’s a great summertime ingredient because of the freshness.”
He added more of that freshness by creating a syrup of sugar and cucumbers, adding jalapeños to balance the sweetness — but there were many more flavors to come. Larkin also made a falernum, a sweet syrup of Caribbean origin that is a common ingredient in tiki drink recipes. Falernum can be non-alcoholic, but Larkin combines his with a Jamaican rum.
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“It’s a multi-day process,” Larkin says of his falernum recipe. He begins the process begins by soaking almonds in water in a stockpot to extract the sugars. Next, he roasts cloves, anise and allspice and adds them to the stockpot with the almonds. After adding ginger and rum, he boils all the ingredients and adds sugar, lowering the heat and simmering for half an hour. After letting the syrup cool, he adds fresh lime zest, letting those flavors mingle for a few days before straining out the solids and bottling the syrup.
Lots of people who don’t normally drink gin have become fans of Larkin’s cocktail. “It’s wildly popular,” he says, “even among the staff. That’s one of the best feelings — when you convince someone to try something new and not only do they love it, but they order it regularly.”
With a new menu change coming in two months, Larkin thinks that the popularity of the drink will help it find a continued spot on Adrift’s extensive cocktail menu. “It’s definitely a candidate to make it through,” he says. “It wouldn’t surprise me if it stuck around for a little while.”