Yesterday morning, three Buddhist monks appeared at Adrift to bless the new tiki bar, a ritual for co-owner Jay Dedrick, who has asked Buddhist monks to ceremonially bless all of his Denver restaurants, including his four Swing Thai joints. And last night, during an animated -- very animated -- friends-and-family dinner at Adrift (which should open to the public on Wednesday), executive chef Wade Kirwan blessed children and adults with a sample of his cooking.
But last night wasn't just about eating: Liquid culture was abundant, both in the tiki cocktails (some with umbrellas, others bereft of the adornment) and in a very special whiskey that was bottled in Thailand and bluntly showcases what happens when a dead cobra and a scorpion intersect -- literally. By the time the whiskey bottle reached our table, the majority of it was swishing around in the stomachs of other imbibers, but there was enough left over for a shot or two, and since I've already stomached a tarantula -- and survived -- what's a cobra and scorpion going to do? Kill me? No such luck.
Those of you who are curious about what it tastes like can find out for yourself, since the bar still has a few bottles of the liquid courage on the shelves, plus an additional bottle harboring a lizard -- but suffice it to say that it's gamy, peppery, remarkably pungent and, if you're squeamish, not particularly enjoyable to handle. You can see for yourself on the following pages, which also include snaps of Kirwan's delicious dishes and the bar's tiki drinks.
Head-on shrimp with arugula leaves, garlic chips and preserved lemon vinaigrette. What, you don't want the heads on your prawns? Don't be silly. Mufungo chips topped with scallion rings and drizzled with a coconut rum sauce. See what I mean about the literal intersection between cobra and scorpion? How would you like to have that in your mouth? Not afraid to drink it, but I was scared to death that if I dropped the bottle (and I'm prone to that), I'd have a reptile-induced heart attack. Calamari fritta glazed with a black-bean sauce. Salt-cured foie gras on toasted brioche ringed in an Earl Grey-thyme syrup. Barbecued beef-tongue potstickers with sweet soy and shiso cabbage salad. Lemongrass-roasted chicken thigh with Polynesian fried rice and coconut-infused black beans. Pork carnitas sliders with charred pineapple and a smear of green onion aioli on Hawaiian buns. The Zombie -- limit two -- concocted with different rums and fresh juices. It's strong enough to wake the dead. Coconut-milk chocolate bread pudding.
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