“I will usually tweak older recipes,” says bartender Jason Randall. “I look at recipes that existed a hundred years ago, or at the turn of the century, and basically put my own spin on it.” But Randall is moving away from that formula in his new role as bar manager at Rebel Restaurant. Although his latest drink, Fawkes and the Hound ($12), combines a few traditional ingredients, the result is anything but traditional. “This is one of the cocktails that I can genuinely say is mine,” he adds.
Here’s what he mixed together:
.75 ounce. housemade Earl Grey tea liqueurEver the tinkerer behind the bar, Randall makes his own Earl Grey tea liqueur by soaking loose-leaf Earl Grey tea in pure grain alcohol for two weeks. “I dilute it down from the original 190 proof,” he explains. “I try to pull in as much of the flavor as I can, and then I simply dilute it with sugar and water in order to get it to 70 proof. It’s not crazy-strong.”
.75 ounce Big Bottom Distilling navy-strength gin
.75 ounce JVR Krupnik
.75 ounce Celestial Mead’s Gunnold’s Tears
Randall pairs his British-tea liqueur with another British-style ingredient: a navy-strength gin from Big Bottom Distilling. Produced in Portland, the gin is a sailor-friendly 114 proof. “It gives it a little more kick, a little more oomph,” Randall says.
The second half of Randall’s recipe was partly inspired by Game of Thrones. “Mead was also something that I wanted to put in,” he explains, “I wanted the drink to be British, and I also wanted it to be medieval.”
Mead, made by fermenting honey, is the oldest alcoholic drink known to civilization. Randall chose one called Gunnold’s Tears, made in Alaska by Celestial Meads. “It’s a really nice, clean mead’” he says. “There’s a lot of floral, honeysuckle and honey to it, and it’s not too viscous.”
His last ingredient also harks back to ancient Europe: Krupnik, a spiced honey liqueur with roots in fifteenth-century Lithuania and Poland. Randall uses JVR Krupnik, made in a traditional manner from a small family garage in Oregon. Using his father's family recipe, the distiller blends vanilla beans, nutmeg, cinnamon and fresh lemon peels with local honey and grain alcohol. “It’s one of the only krupniks I could find,” Randall says.
“It’s been by far the most popular cocktail on the menu,” Randall says. “It’s heavy on alcohol, it’s heavy on flavor. It just has those really comforting winter spices.” In fact, he made the drink for the Winter Warmer program, a seasonal variation of the Denver Passport, which includes drink specials at multiple bars and restaurants in a small, passport-sized book.
“Sometimes people order two of them,” Randall admits. “But the thing I’m most proud of about this cocktail: it’s mine. I didn’t pull it from anywhere.”
Food pairing: Rebel’s pierogi of the day ($5 for one, $8 for two). The filling for these soft, boiled pierogis changes weekly.