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4 Unique Supper Club Drinks from Creative Mixologists

Libations

Carrie Dennis | July 23, 2018
Highly unusual drinks to serve your guests, with ingredients from Key West Sky Juice to Fernet-Branca to Chinese moonshine.

The most fun thing about contemporary supper clubs is that they can take place anywhere, be run by anyone, and celebrate anything — so long as the food and drinks are on point and the entertainment is engaging. This new era’s supper clubs are a far cry from the high-class establishments of yore. They’re offshoots of celebrated restaurants, artistic endeavors, and pop-up concepts, born from the brains of young people with shared vision. Frequently supper clubs don’t even have an official cocktail program (BYOB is often the MO); instead, chefs and mixologists go off the cuff, using their own histories and experiences to craft special drinks for each event.

We spoke to five diverse cocktail creators to get a taste of what’s being served at various supper clubs around the country.

“Spring Herbal Spritz” by Simone Ver Eecke for Tile Table

Tile Table is an experimental supper club collaboratively run by Simone Ver Eecke and her co-chef/co-host/co-creator Isabel Kagan out of their apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The duo frequently incorporates their favorite films into the series, sometimes letting the film inspire the menu and vice versa. Ver Eecke, who’s in charge of the beverage experience, considers many factors when crafting a cocktail, such as the history and regional significance of different ingredients. She loves playing with different kinds of herbal liqueurs like amaro, chartreuse, and crème di violette.

Her latest cocktail was inspired by the 80º weather that was expected on the day of her most recent dinner event. Refreshing, bright, and inspired by southern France and northern Italy, the Fernet-Branca drink is an homage to a classic chilled pastis crossed with an amaro spritz.

Simone mixing up a "Spring Herbal Spritz"

The recipe:

1¼ part Fernet-Branca
¾ part absinthe
¾ part lime juice
½ part simple syrup
ginger ale
mint springs

Combine the Fernet-Branca, absinthe, lime juice, and simple syrup in a rocks glass and add ice to fill. Stir until the drink feels chilled (about 15 seconds). To finish, top with ginger ale and garnish with sprig of slapped mint. Aguri!

“By Joe” by Matt Dorsey for Wednesdays NYC

Husband-and-wife team Jenny and Matt Dorsey (Jenny is the chef, Matt is the mixologist) run an experimental dinner series based in New York City called Wednesdays. The concept is simple: seven food courses and a four-course cocktail flight. Beyond that, most anything goes.

When concocting his cocktails, Matt likes to incorporate unique and lesser-known liquors. “I aim for the cocktails to be challenging, not just a swig-and-forget-it, but incorporate some type of history or story,” he says. Most recently, Matt mixed up a fun drink with bai jiu (Chinese moonshine) in the spirit of the latest “cheese tea” craze. He calls it “By Joe,” which is a play on the word bai jiu and the fact that his first name is actually Joseph.

"By Joe," photo courtesy of Wednesdays

The recipe:

1 ½ part bai jiu, flash-“aged” with French oak chips in an immersion circulator for 2 hours
¼ part Fernet-Branca
½ part concentrated oolong tea
½ part fermented black bean and Sichuan peppercorn simple syrup
1 ½ tbsp cream cheese powder whipped with cream cheese, salt, and sugar
3 drops chili oil

Combine bai jiu, Fernet-Branca, oolong, simple syrup, and whipped cream cheese over ice. Shake vigorously. Double strain into a coupe glass and garnish with chili oil.

“Sobak” by Dave Park for Hanbun

Dave Park’s beloved Chicago eatery Hanbun might be closed for the time being, but that hasn’t stopped the chef from producing a Hanbun-adjacent supper club. It’s typically BYOB (as many supper clubs are), but sometimes guests get lucky and Park tests out his cocktail ideas on them.

An interesting cocktail that Park has been working on involves white kimchi soju, watermelon, and tomato juice. He calls it “Sobak” because, in Korean, sobak is slang for soju and watermelon. “Since we run a Korean menu, I like to focus mostly on Korean ingredients and flavors,” he says. This particular drink takes cues from summer tomato and feta salads. To mimic the feta’s salinity and brininess, Park uses white kimchi juice to deliver those salty notes.

"Sobak," photo by Theresa Cantafio

The recipe:

1 part watermelon juice
½ part tomato water
1 part white kimchi juice
2 parts soju
½ part tequila
¼ part simple syrup

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice, cover, and shake vigorously until very cold, about 20 seconds. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a piece of watermelon.

“Stock Island SkyJuice” by Martin Liz for Lost Kitchen Supper Club

The cultures of the Keys and the Bahamas are front and center at Chef Martin Liz’s Lost Kitchen Supper Club in Key West, Florida. Liz’s “Stock Island SkyJuice” is inspired by the Bahamian favorite, Sky Juice, a name that comes from the drink’s cloudy color and the fact that it is mixed with young coconut water. Coconuts grow high in the trees — thus, “juice from the sky.” The original beverage dates back to the early 20th century, when the islands were flowing with cheap rum and gin during Prohibition days. With so many English folks around, gin became the beverage of choice. Add in a little coconut water and condensed milk and you have Sky Juice in its simplest, most traditional form.

Liz personalizes his version with a splash of “Ol’ Sour” (a fermented condiment native to Key West and used to preserve key-lime juice) and a basil garnish. “I like to stick to the Caribbean rule of thumb of 80% liquor and 20% mixer, but as you can imagine, that makes for a stiff drink.”

“Stock Island SkyJuice,” photo courtesy of Lost Kitchen Supper Club

The recipe:

To make the Ol’ Sour:
3 parts fresh-squeezed key lime juice
1 part salt
1 bird pepper

Ferment in a dark, cool space in the back of your kitchen cupboard for about 30 days.

To make Stock Island SkyJuice:
2 parts gin
½ part sweetened condensed milk
splash of Ol’ Sour
splash of fresh green coconut water

Combine all ingredients into a shaker and shake well with ice until the condensed milk is completely emulsified. Top with coconut water and finish with a dash of cinnamon and a sprig of fresh basil.


To read about the comeback of the supper club, click here.

To discover the history of the supper club, click here.

To learn why every chef loves a supper club, go here.

To find the right supper club for every personality, try here.


To discover more distinctive culture, try Heritage | Fernet-Branca .

Carrie Dennis is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor.

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