Fall means many things to people: pumpkins, football, piles of leaves. But to nationally-recognized bartender Sean Kenyon, designer of the cocktail menu at Squeaky Bean (which I review this week), it means something else: aromatics.
"When I think of fall and winter, I think aromatics right away," says Kenyon, whose new drink menu is scheduled to debut tonight in honor of the season.
The cocktails include plenty of fall fruits such as pear and apple, plus spices like cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg that we normally associate with pumpkin pie. Don't expect anything with pumpkin itself, though, given what Kenyon calls its weird consistency. "People try so hard to make [pumpkin] work," he says, laughing, "but I've never seen it work in 26 years."
That's how long Kenyon has been tending bar, but he has it in his blood: His father is a bartender, too. Kenyon, an occasional Westword contributor, was tending bar at the original Squeaky Bean location in Highland and couldn't refuse an offer to be part of the "all-star team" at the new Bean, even though by then he'd opened his own speakeasy, Williams & Graham.
While the quirky categories -- named for '80s movies, a passion Kenyon shares with Bean owner Johnny Ballen -- remain the same as when this Bean opened in June, nearly all of the drinks are different. Out are margaritas and mojitos; in are brown spirits and drinks that warm your soul.
One new libation in the "Up the Academy" section (with drinks served up) is the "Remington Steele," named for Pierce Brosnan's TV show and featuring vodka, muddled pear and Becherovka, a Czech liquor with hints of cinnamon and anise. New in the "Rocky III" category (drinks served on the rocks) is the rock & rye, made with rye infused for four days with orange and lemon peels, dried apricots, horehound, cloves, cinnamon and rock candy. According to Kenyon, the drink originated as a late nineteenth-century cold cure and eventually became so popular that people pretended they were sick in order to get some.
If you're tired of this trick-or-treating business and would rather fast forward to tinsel and flying reindeer, order an "Over The Top," named for Sylvestor Stallone's 1987 action flick. With gin, Three Pins herbal liquor, vermouth and orange bitters, "the drink is Christmas in your mouth," says Kenyon.
Now that's something I've just got to taste.
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