Cocktail Challenge: fenugreek | Cocktail Challenge | Chicago Reader

Cocktail Challenge: fenugreek 

India meets Michigan in a smoky drink

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Henri bartender Clint Rogers happened to be walking by the Spice House in Old Town when he got word of his challenge from Sterling Field of Sable: fenugreek. A nutty-tasting small golden seed, it's one of the spices in panch phoron, a blend of fenugreek, cumin seed, nigella, radhuni, and fennel seed that's used in Bangladesh and Eastern India. For his cocktail, Rogers made a fenugreek syrup, which he says "tastes like slightly more aromatic imitation maple syrup." No wonder—in the course of his research he found out that commercial imitation syrup is made with the spice.

click to enlarge ANDREA BAUER

Michigan Sweat Lodge

6-8 smoked Michigan blueberries, chilled*
1.5 oz Wild Turkey 101 rye whiskey
1 oz Cocchi Americano
.5 oz fenugreek syrup**
.5 oz Campari
dash Angostura bitters

Muddle blueberries in the bottom of a mixing glass. Add spirits, fenugreek syrup, and bitters. Add ice, and stir until it's chilled and the flavors are incorporated. Double strain into a chilled martini or old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a smoked blueberry.

*To smoke blueberries, burn wet applewood chips in a pan topped with a perforated pan filled with ice. On top of that place another perforated pan with berries inside. Wrap tightly with foil. Rogers says that "it takes a while to start smoking good. Once it is you can take it off the burner and let it smolder about ten minutes."

**For the syrup, toast two ounces of fenugreek seeds and one ounce each of cumin and celery seeds, then steep at a low temperature in two cups of demerara simple syrup (one part sugar, one part water) with a few pieces of star anise and two cardamom pods.

Who's Next:

Rogers has challenged Duchamp beverage program manager Kris von Dopek with nopales, cactus paddles. "I'm from Texas," he explained.


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