2020 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley CA, 94704 (510) 926.6300
Hours
Sunday thru Thursday 5:30-10pm
Friday & Saturday 5:30-11pm
Front bar opens at 5pm nightly
Hours
Sunday thru Thursday 5:30-10pm
Friday & Saturday 5:30-11pm
Front bar opens at 5pm nightly

New Cocktail: Green Mind

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

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Each fall, after begrudgingly removing the Juarez Sour from our menu when berries vanish from the market, I struggle to find a suitable winter replacement.  It’s nice to have an egg white ‘sour’ style cocktail year round as they provide textural differentiation from the crushed ice tiki drinks and stirred, spirit-forward cocktails on the drink list.   In years past we’ve tried Ancho Reyes and pumpkin sours, but making pumpkin-anything after the holidays is like wearing white after Labor Day, leaving a sizable gap.  This year we took our egg white bridge to spring, marked annually by the return of the Summer Camp sour, in a different direction: decidedly vegetal.

This is actually one of the few drinks we’ve created that was born in the home bar, an after work favorite of one of Comal’s early bartenders: a tequila sour with a muddled avocado slice.  I thought the idea interesting when he described his post shift routine to me, and shelved it in the back of my brain, as it would be near impossible to muddle avocado to order given the volume of drinks we serve; some ideas are just better suited for the home bar.  I was reminded of the prospect of an avocado sour a few years later when touring St. George distillery and speaking with master distiller Lance Winters about the process they went through in perfecting a recipe for green chile vodka, which was involved to say the least.  Since opening, we’ve limited the cocktail menu to drinks using rum or agave spirits as they naturally make sense paired with Mexican food.  When I tasted St. George’s green chile vodka for the first time I instantly thought of Comal’s menu and knew this would be the perfect vodka to break the rules with.

I wanted to amplify the flavor of the distilled peppers with some fresh chile juice, but didn’t want the drink to taste spicy.  Poblanos became the obvious choice as they have the added bonus of turning things green, without setting your mouth on fire.  Egg white and avocado were included for texture, adding body to the drink, while the remaining ingredients are simply a margarita: tequila, lime and agave.  Whether you look at it as a green margarita or an avocado sour, the overriding flavor is just green: vegetal, bright, earthy, but most importantly refreshing.  We didn’t want the texture to get too thick as we’re not looking to remind people to eat their vegetables, or create a ‘booze smoothie’.  The aim was to let the classic marriage of lime & agave shine through the bright green notes up front.

Great, we’ve now created a delicious recipe for a drink that is prohibitively time consuming to replicate on a large scale; and I thought we were done.  When mocking up the drink one at a time, we were muddling avocado into fresh poblano juice extracted with a vegetable juicer – not super efficient, but the results were fantastic.  Each time I would try to recreate that flavor in a batch it never turned out quite right.  So after a month of R&D, and a lot of time spent with my trusty Vitaprep blender, I finally figured out a method for cranking out avocado sours without the headache, mess, and time expenditure of the home bar method.  Come enjoy a Green Mind on our back patio and be thrilled to not be scrubbing the fallout from a blender explosion off your kitchen ceiling. We’ve already done the heavy lifting…

Matthew McKinley Campbell




New Cocktail: Acapulco Gold

Friday, April 24th, 2015

DSCF1007According to NationalMargaritaDay.com, February 22nd is set aside each year to celebrate America’s most consumed cocktail (interesting to note that Mexico’s is the Paloma).  Despite my skepticism as to its origin as a nouveau-holiday, I said ‘sure’ when asked to create a cocktail for a brand-sponsored, national margarita day competition.  The recipe came together in five minutes. I snapped a picture and forgot all about it – never submitted.

 The Acapulco Gold is an unintended benefit of my own disorganization, as the idea evolved over time from a margarita derivation to a delicious beach beverage.  We get calls all the time for mango margaritas, and it’s an ingredient we haven’t used outside our anejo sangrita.  As the weather warmed up it seemed the perfect time to bring another tiki-style crushed ice cocktail onto the menu.  Ancho Reyes was originally intended to act as an orange liquor substitute in a classic margarita format, but it works well with the mango and the spicy finish helps cut all that juice.

We were already dashing some angostura bitters when working on the recipe, as we do with most of our beach drinks, but the addition of cacao nibs helped dry it out even more and offers great aromatics to pair with the fruit.  When our lead bartender Joanna asked me a half hour before service what the garnish would be, I had no idea but said ‘something with pineapple’.  Chile arbol-salted pineapple chunks and a green ‘penca’ for color was where we landed, just short of a paper umbrella.

Matthew McKinley Campbell