Tom's Urban 24, which I review this week, isn't a chef-driven restaurant. The bar is where the real personalities reside, with seven mixologists bringing their own craft and spirits (pun intended) to upscale, round-the-clock libations.
Last month two of them, Les Baker V and Chris Clewell, shared the spotlight by making it into the finals of the Shake It Up! "Spirit of America" Cocktail Challenge in Las Vegas, out of an original pool of 500 entrants. See also: - Tom's Urban 24: Is this upscale diner ready for prime time? - Behind the scenes at Tom's Urban 24 - Guess where I'm drinking this whiskey mule?
Baker competed with a concoction that had previously won an award, and while it didn't move him to the final round -- in which contestants were charged with making a drink using the mystery ingredient of root beer syrup -- it's easy to see why it won top honors two years ago. The drink, which he had to make five times in just as many minutes, includes Pyrat XO rum, Patron XO Café, a red chile- and tobacco-infused agave syrup, and dark cocoa heavy cream on top. "The tobacco gives it a little smoky flavor and brings out the tones in the rum," Baker says.
Baker is behind the bar at Tom's Urban 24 four or five days a week, usually from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., and if he's there when you are, you can taste his XOOX creation. Although that recipe is secret, Baker was willing to share Tom's twist on the classic Moscow Mule, which he says has been very popular of late.
Larimer Mule Recipe courtesy of Les Baker V, Tom's Urban 24
Juice of half a lemon 2 oz. vodka Guayaki Yerba mate syrup Ginger beer Fresh mint spring
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Squeeze the lemon juice and drop the shell of the lemon into a cold copper mug. Add ice cubes and vodka, then fill with syrup and ginger beer and finish with mint.