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Walker Menus: Alice Waters

In 1971, Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA. In the years that followed, she changed how Americans think about food, how we eat, and ultimately engendered a greater respect for our planet. One of her greatest gifts has been exciting a desire for honesty and simplicity in ingredients — and, most importantly, how great ingredients make tastier food, closer communities, and a better world.

That manifesto has inspired a food revolution that spread to every corner of the globe and, in our view, set the foundation on which all cocktail bars in this country have thrived. Simply put, The Walker Inn would not be here without Alice Waters.

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For our first menu of 2016, we wanted to start the new year with a breath of fresh air, and it felt only appropriate to shift gears to cocktails with a distinctly culinary style. The New Year brings reflection on our past and what’s in store for the future, and so it’s with great respect that we dedicated our first menu of 2016 to Alice Waters, a woman whose philosophy has deeply impacted our lives and work — and whose approach to flavor is righteous in its simplicity: let good things taste good.

If Alice were watching over our shoulder, we imagine her insisting that we only source our ingredients from the farmer’s market, but also insist that we waste as little as possible. You’ll see this reflected in many cocktails in obvious ways — the Meyer Lemon Aperitif uses almost all of a meyer lemon (juice, zest); the Fennel explores as many elements of fennel that we can fit in a glass — and the unexpected Mushroom & Sesame, that bridges savory and classic cocktail form, taking inspiration from our neighborhood.

These cocktails are not lifted from classic Alice Water’s dishes, though — some are inspired by her history as a chef and activist, while others are inspired by her approach alone.

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While launching this menu in January, the first version of the Alice Waters menu embraced hearty wintertime ingredients: citrus, roots, greens. But as the spring warmed and the days got longer, so too did the best ingredients at the market change. A couple months in, instead of changing menus altogether, we decided instead to do what we thought Alice would: revamp the offerings with what was great at the time. Version 2.0 introduced more spring time flavors, best reflected in the differences between the two Gazpacho cocktails listed below. The menu extended all the way into the early summer — our longest total run to date. The drinks listed below are a collection of both the 1.0 and 2.0 menus. Some have been omitted for redundancy (or because someone didn’t record their specs in detail).

The biggest lessons we learned in creating and serving this menu wasn’t just that great ingredients are superior to others, but that we, as humans — guests, bartenders, whomever — are inspired by our natural connection to the Earth. We love the knowledge that something we’re enjoying came from a place, from a human being. We take pride in feeling these connections, and to tap into that excited comes with a profound obligation to get it right. When playing with emotion, you have to get it just right. It was inspiring to serve these drinks to our guests and see that engagement first hand — in a deeply meaningful way. 

-The Walker Inn Team

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Cocktails Inspired by Alice Waters

MEYER LEMON APERITIF

with Sherry & French Vermouth, Meyer Lemon Sidecar

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The Idea: If there’s one drink that we love more than any other, it’s the Bamboo — low in alcohol, high in flavor. It drinks like a Martini without all the boozy baggage. For this drink, we took that idea and expanded on it. One tenant that exists in so many of Alice’s ideas is to respect our ingredients and to use every element as much as possible. In that interest, we’ve attempted to express the many beautiful sides of Meyer Lemon, while having as little waste as possible.

For the first time, we combined the cocktail fully together and infused it with Meyer zest all together. We did this to spread the Meyer flavor over the whole of the cocktail, to blanket it, as opposed to infusing one or more elements. This cocktail is all about meyer.

After zesting, we found ourselves with the Meyer fruit. We juiced it, combined with sugar and residual zest, and cooked sous vide. After filtering, what resulted was a dynamic Meyer Lemon soda — sweet and punchy. With a little water, we carbonated it into a simple soda: no tricks, just the inherent quality of the fruit.

Together, the stirred Bamboo variation and a refreshing sidecar of meyer soda became one of our favorite cocktails to date — a great way to start an evening.

The Recipe:

  • 3.5 oz Meyer Lemon Aperitif Batch
  • 1 teaspoon Cane Syrup
  • 1 dash Orange Bitters
Method: Stir / Strain
Glass: Cocktail
Garnish: Meyer Lemon Soda sidecar, dehydrated Meyer Lemon

Techniques & Ingredients:

*Meyer Lemon Aperitif Batch: Zest Meyer Lemons, set aside. Combine 6 oz Lustau “Los Arcos” Amontillado Sherry, 3 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth, 3 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth, 2 oz Moscatel Pisco, and 3 grams Meyer Lemon Zest in a shallow container. Set inside Chamber Vacuum machine. Run at full vacuum for 3 cycles. Remove from chamber, strain off zest. Store refrigerated. Alternatively, infuse using iSi method.

**Meyer Lemon Soda (base): Using Meyers from Aperitif batch (above), combine 500 grams Meyer Lemon Juice with 500 grams white sugar. Blend until sugar is dissolved. Transfer to sous vide bag, and add 15 grams Meyer Lemon Zest. Seal. Cook sous vide at 135F for two hours. Remove and place into ice bath. Once cool, strain off solids. For the soda, combine 1.5 oz Meyer Lemon base with 3.5 oz Seltzer water. Force carbonate.

CHARDONNAY

w/ Butter, Cognac, Vanilla

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The Idea: France has clearly had an impact on Alice’s career — not only in cooking techniques, but in her approach to flavor — and how she’s made those ideas distinctly Californian. There’s a parallel for this in the booze world: Californian wine. While there are many examples we could take inspiration from, we’re suckers for chardonnay (yeah, shut up, it’s delicious). While the whites of Burgundy and those made in California may taste very different, their shared DNA was ample fodder for our smart ass instincts — particularly playing off the frequent descriptor of CA chardonnay as “buttery.”

As in the case of our other Walker Wines, we wanted to take this idea and amplify it. To any wine geeks out here, you get the joke (or you think we’re crazy and should be locked up): introduce true butteryness to a French Chardonnay! Yuuuum.
From there, we accented the characteristics of CA chardonnay, drawing out woodiness with cognac, vanilla, and the slightest impression of pear.

The Recipe:

  • 4 bottles Butter Washed White Burgundy
  • 5.5 oz VSOP Cognac
  • 1 oz Giffard Vanile
  • 1 oz Clear Creek Pear Liqueur
  • 4 oz Cane Syrup
  • 24 oz water

Method: Stir (for much longer than you think), Strain into Decanter
Glass: Burgundy Wine Glass
Garnish: None

Techniques & Ingredients:

*Butter Washed White Burgundy: Melt 1 stick of butter. In a cambro, combine with White Burgundy (don’t go crazy — just a decent quality one, fairly dry) and stir. Cover and place in a refrigerator overnight. Unlike other “fat wash” infusions, the low ABV of Chardonnay will result in a completely frozen mix, so a refrigerator will solidify some of the solids. After at least 12 hours, strain through cheesecloth. If you have a centrifuge (yay!), then spin at 4500rpm for 12 minutes, and strain again. 

FENNEL FROM FARM TO GLASS

with Seed, Bulb, Pollen & Rum

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The Idea:
 
In what has become a long-standing walker tradition, we wanted to take a single ingredient and see how many different ways we could express it in a single cocktail. That idea has shown up in almost every menu (in one way or another), but in paying tribute to Alice Waters, we thought it be most appropriate to think holistically: how can we use the life cycle of an ingredient to understand or appreciate it better.

Through many days of brainstorming, we settled on fennel — an ingredient that finds it way into cooking in so many ways. It was our goal to include as many fennel dynamic as possible in one single drink. Fennel juice brought a savory sweetness, a fennel seed tincture a spice punch, and fennel pollen a floral-ness to the aroma. The result is a sour-style cocktail that walks a fine line between between savory and refreshing. Though this cocktail pokes fun at localvore culture with its name, it nonetheless is an attempt to open our eyes to parts of the ingredients that we may not consider useful in food or drink.

The Recipe:

  • 1.25 oz Caña Brava Rum
  • 0.25 oz Fennel Seed Tincture*
  • 1.5 oz Fennel Juice**
  • 0.75 oz Lemon Juice
  • 0.5 oz Alexander Jules Amontillado Sherry
  • 0.5 oz Simple Syrup
  • 0.25 oz Cointreau

Method: Shake / Strain
Glass: Large Cocktail
Garnish: Fennel Pollen on top of foam

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Techniques & Ingredients:

* Fennel Seed Tincture: Lightly muddle 25 grams fennel seeds, just enough to crack most of the pods. Using a rotovap, combine in a distilling flask with 500 grams neutral liquid. Pre-heat water bath to 45C. Attach flask, suck out most air (do not allow to boil), and rotate at low RPM submerged in bath for 30 mins. Distill through.


** Fennel Juice: Prep fennel root by rinsing and, using a veggie peeler, skinning the root. Chop. Before juicing, place 1 tspn of ascorbic acid powder (per every 1 liter of planned juice) into container that you’ll juice into. Using a Champion Juicer (or similar masticating juicer), juice fennel root. Stir juice to ensure ascorbic acid distributes.

APRICOT & BAGUETTE

with Preserves, Genever, Lemon & Champagne

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The IdeaIn learning about the origins of Alice Water’s passion for simple, good food, we read about a time when her travels took her to France. A vivid memory of fresh baguette and apricot preserves was an inspiring story, and we set out to recreate it in a glass.

The apricot part is easy, and even the impression of bread can be accomplished without much thought. But we wanted to capture the aroma of fresh baguette — that indescribable scent of warm yeasty bread. In what may be our biggest holy-shit-we’re-assholes move, we threw some legit baguette into the rotovap. Honestly, we were pretty sure it wouldn’t do much. But boy were we wrong! Out the other end came a tincture that, on its own, was like slightly bready vodka, but as soon as we sprayed it out of an atomizer, oh boy — bread!
This tincture acted as the finishing aroma on a cocktail that was light, but with the soft wheat flavor thanks to Genever and a briny manzanilla sherry, along with a touch of sweetness from apricot preserves and a yeasty punch from sparkling wine.

The Recipe:

  • 0.75 oz Diep 9 Oude Genever
  • 0.25 oz Alexander Jules Manzanilla Sherry
  • 0.5 oz Lemon Juice
  • Scant 0.5 oz Cane Syrup*
  • Barspoon Apricot Preserves
  • Cremant de Bourgogne

Method: Shake, Strain, Top w/ Cremant
Glass: Flute
Garnish: French Bread Tincture**

Techniques & Ingredients:

*Cane Syrup: In a blender, combine 200 grams Raw Cane Sugar w/ 100 grams filtered water. Blend until dissolved.


**French Bread Tincture: Blend 500 grams of liquid with 250 grams fresh french baguette. No, seriously, this is happening. Pour into distilling flask. Using a rotary evaporator, distill.

GAZPACHO

with Bell Peppers, Cucumber, Carrot, Thyme, Vermouth & Gin

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The Idea: Devon is the queen of the bloody mary, and any excuse to put booze in food is something she’ll never pass up. Over the course of the Alice Waters menu, Devon created two unique “gazpachos” — savory cocktails too thick to be called a bloody mary, but too boozy to be just a cold soup. So, so, so good. To say we didn’t “test” the batches on a daily basis would be lie.

The first of the Gazpachos centered around a comforting winter mix, the second embraces the changing seasons — a spring time boozy soup.

The Recipe: Gazpacho v1 (Batch)

  • 5 oz Cucumber juice
  • 7.5 oz Orange Bell Pepper juice
  • 5 oz Red Bell Pepper Juice
  • 2.5 oz Carrot Juice
  • 1.25 oz Celery Juice
  • 15 drops Salt Solution
  • 3 teaspoon Sherry Vinegar
  • 5 teaspoon Lemon Juice
  • 5 oz Thyme Dolin Dry Vermouth*
  • 2.5 oz Tanqueray Old Tom Gin
  • 2.5 Lustau Puerto Fino Sherry
  • 5 teaspoon Simple Syrup
  • 1/2 Avocado, pureed

Method: Mix all ingredients, store in bottle
Glass: Small bowl
Garnish: Basil oil drops on top, cilantro leaf

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The Recipe: Gazpacho v2 (Batch)

Prepare n/a batch

  • 750 grams peeled Persian Cucumber
  • 1 Medium Avocado
  • 10 grams Basil Leaves
  • 8 grams mint leaves
  • 5 grams cilantro leaves
  • 400 grams water
  • 100 grams olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1.5 oz Champagne Vinegar
  • 2 oz Lemon Juice
  • 4 oz Celery Juice

Blend all together until herbs are completely incorporated. Then strain and combine with booze:

  • 20 oz Gazpacho Mix
  • 7.5 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
  • 5 oz St. George Green Chile Vodka

Techniques & Ingredients :

*Thyme Dolin Dry Vermouth: In a shallow cambro, combine one 750ml bottle Dolin Dry Vermouth with 20 grams Thyme sprigs. Place into chamber vacuum machine, run at full vacuum for three cycles. Remove from chamber, and lightly muddle thyme sprigs. Strain off solids and rebottle.

WATERCRESS

with Gin, Vodka, French Vermouth & Peach

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The Idea: We love martinis for their relative simplicity, but sometimes that clarity — often gin or vodka with very little else — means that within the format, we don’t get to play around much with big flavors. One dramatic exception to this is within savory martini riffs, which are well-established thanks to the long history of savory garnishes added to a stiff martini. In seeking an unexpected format to highlight a savory flavor, we didn’t want to go the salty route, but more vegetal.

As a member of the mustard family, watercress is pungent, slightly bitter, with a touch of black pepper. It’s great in salads, but in drinks? Just muddling it wasn’t very good, nor was a vacuum infusion good at extracting the spectrum of Watercress’ flavor, so we turned to our trusty centrifuge to see how that might help. Blending watercress with gin, and then running the mix through the centrifuge, produced a spirit that was a delicious foundation for a martini riff.
Gin, in this case was crucial in acting as a foundation for all the characteristics that make watercress delicious — those botanicals act to brighten the characteristics of the leaf in a delicious way. We suggest a London Dry style, such as 86 Co’s Ford’s Gin.

The Recipe:

  • Watercress Ford’s Gin*
  • 0.5 oz Absolut Elyx Vodka
  • 0.75 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
  • 0.25 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
  • ½ Teaspoon Giffard Pêche de Vigne
  • 1 drop Salt Solution

Method: Stir, strain
Glass: Stemmed Cocktail Glass
Garnish: Cucumber Wheels & Thyme

Techniques & Ingredients :

* Watercress Gin: In a blender, combine 1 liter bottle of 86 Co Ford’s Gin with 75 grams Watercress leaves. Blend. Run through centrifuge at 4500rpm for 10 minutes, strain off solids through four layers of cheesecloth. Bottle immediately and keep refrigerated. Will keep for about one week.

WHITE SESAME SEED

with Mushrooms, Thai Chili & Bourbon

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The Idea: If you hadn’t noticed yet, this menu played with savory in many ways — getting downright culinary at times. It was fitting, but we also didn’t want to make a menu of drinks that were thinly veiled dishes with booze in them. We also wanted cocktails that were traditional in form, but played off some of the same concepts that Alice Water’s food does.

In this cocktail, we’re taking the form of an Old Fashioned and drawing inspiration from the world directly around us. The Walker Inn is located in LA’s Koreatown, a densely populated neighborhood — with a vibrant Korean diaspora community. There are no shortage of amazing Korean spots to eat within a few steps of our door, and so we wanted to not just draw influence from the beautiful Southern Californian produce available to us, but also the culture that we work in — within the few blocks of our bar.
What resulted was an Old Fashioned that utilizes some of the flavors of the local food — in this case, white sesame seed and mushroom. An added layer of spice through thai chili and a hint of richness through amontillado sherry, and the result is an Old Fashioned that is difficult to pin down.

The Recipe:

  • 1.75 oz Mushroom & White Sesame Bourbon*
  • 0.25 oz Thai Chili Bourbon*
  • 0.25 oz Lustau “Los Arcos” Amontillado Sherry
  • 1 teaspoon Demerara Syrup

Method: Stir, strain
Glass: Old Fashioned w/ Block Ice
Garnish: Korean Sesame Seed Candy

Techniques & Ingredients:

* Mushroom & White Sesame Bourbon: In a sous vide bag, combine one 750ml bottle Elijah Craig Bourbon with 50 grams Cremini mushrooms, 50 grams Shiitake mushrooms, and 10 grams lightly toasted white sesame seeds. Seal. Cook sous vide at 145F for 2 hours. Remove and place into an ice bath. Once chilled, strain off solids and rebottle.
**Thai Chili Bourbon: Using gloves, cut fresh thai chilis down the middle, add to cambro. Pour in 1 bottle Elijah Craig bourbon. Stir. Check flavor at 2, 3, 4, and 5 minute intervals. Chilis can have wildly different heat levels, so taste until the flavor becomes just noticeably “spicy” but not burning your face straight off. If you have a high tolerance for spice, remember us people who don’t. Or not. Remove pepper before it becomes too spicy — look for a kick of heat on the back of your palate. Strain out solids. Rebottle and store refrigerated.

BLOOD ORANGE

with Rye Whiskey, Brandy & Italian Vermouth

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The Idea: It seems like Manhattan-riffs have gotten more and more complicated, and in working on your own, you don’t always have to pull for yet another amaro or split the base between fifteen spirits. Sometimes, a simple manipulation of flavor can make for a delicious drink of deep complexity.

As we were looking for that boozy sipper to round out the tail end of the menu, the fortunes of winter citrus presented themselves. This drink is such a simple riff, but relies on an infusion of blood oranges into Carpano Antica — an infusion that adds greater bitterness, taking the place of bitters in a traditional Manhattan.. It’s bitter and simultaneously bright, a deeply settling cocktail for late in the evening.

The Recipe:

  • 1 oz Rittenhouse Rye
  • 0.5 oz Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac
  • 1.5 oz Blood Orange Carpano Antica Vermouth*

Method: Stir, strain
Glass: Stemmed Cocktail w/ Dividends
Garnish: Dehydrated Blood Orange Wheel

Techniques & Ingredients:

** Blood Orange Carpano Antica Vermouth: In a shallow cambro, combine one liter bottle Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth with 75 grams fresh blood orange peel. Place inside chamber vacuum machine, run on full vacuum for two cycles. Strain out solids, rebottle, and store refrigerated.

TURKISH ICE CREAM

with Almond Rum, Sherry, Nocino, Goat Milk & Honey Ice Cream

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The Idea: A meal wouldn’t be complete without the requisite taste of something sweet, and this cocktail pays homage to a memory Alice described of fresh goats milk in Turkey. Accompanying a homemade goats milk and honey ice cream is a sweet and spiritous cocktail, somewhere between a Manhattan and a dessert.

The Recipe:

  • 1.5 oz Almond infused Caña Brava 7yr Rum*
  • 0.5 oz Lustau East India Solera Sherry
  • 0.25 oz Lustau Pedro Ximenez Sherry
  • 0.25 oz Charbary Nocino
  • ½ teaspoon Lazarroni Amaretto
  • 1 drop Salt Solution

Method: Stir, strain
Glass: Cocktail
Garnish: Goat’s Milk & Honey Ice Cream

Techniques & Ingredients:

* Almond Infused Caña Brava 7yr Rum: In a sous vide, combine one 750ml bottle Caña Brava 7yr rum with 100 grams chopped blanched almonds. Seal and cook sous vide at 145F for two hours. Remove and place in an ice bath. Once chilled, strain out solids. Rebottle and store refrigerated.

**Goats Milk & Honey Ice Cream

Gather ingredients:

  • 6 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup goat milk
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt

Process:

  • Combine egg yolks and sugar in a large mixing bowl. whisk until fluffy
  • Combine heavy cream, milk and salt in a saucepan.
  • Heat on medium until warm
  • Slowly whisk warm mixture into egg yolks/sugar
  • Transfer back into saucepan and heat on low, constantly stirring
  • The custard will be done when you can insert and remove a spoon, swipe your finger through the back of the spoon and the custard does not fill in the line
  • Transfer to a cambro with the mead and acacia honey
  • Label, date and place in the freezer

SAUTERNES

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The Idea: 

In the days before Sauternes became one of the most expensive styles of wine on the planet, it was dirt cheap. Alice has recalled being introduced to it early in career and loving it, admiring the wine’s yearly changes and sweet complexity. In the early days of Chez Panisse, Alice carried only three wines — a fumé blanc, a cabernet, and a sauternes — so we thought it only fitting to finish up the Walker Menu with our smartass version of sauternes. A base of bright Scheurebe wine, Elderflower, and a touch of Verjus…a little taste of something sweet to send you off into the night.

The Recipe:

  • 4 oz Scheruebe Wine
  • 0.75 oz St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • ½ teaspoon Verjus

Method: Combine, chill, pour
Glass: Dainty & Adorable stemmed glass
Garnish: None

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