Dagnabbit, I love a theme. Call me kitschy or downright nerdy for it, but I firmly believe that a good theme makes the world go ‘round. No? Well, if that’s a touch too far, let’s at least agree that a good theme makes for better fun in general, and certainly better drinking falls within that sphere.
Consider, for example, the bar program at Mill’s Tavern, which structures each seasonal menu with an offbeat theme. Beverage director Shelby Miro has the enviable task of setting the themes, which she develops into a cocktail roster with her team. This past spring they paid homage to (in Miro’s cheeky words) “famed writers who were also drunks.” Be still, my writerly, soused heart! There was Hemingway’s Afternoon Tea, for instance, that married rum with green tea and fresh grapefruit juice. The gin-based Kippling’s Tipple combined lavender, mild orange and mint.
One of the unsung stars was the Sunthorn’s Soother, named for Thailand’s most famous and booze-soaked royal poet. It’s tequila-based, but miles (and time zones) apart from the typical direction that tequila cocktails take, buoyed by a Southeast Asian combination of Thai basil, coconut and vanilla.
As refreshing as it was in springtime, we thought it deserved a summer encore – and, luckily, the Mill’s team agreed. They’re keeping it “off menu” for you readers, so do ask for it, or try your hand at a homemade version with their recipe.
• 1.5 oz house-infused Thai basil tequila*
• .5 oz Cointreau
• 1.5 oz coconut water
• .5 oz vanilla bean simple syrup**
• .25 oz each fresh lemon and lime juice
• 2 fresh Thai basil leaves
• Shredded coconut, sea salt and lime zest (optional)
Prepare a salted coconut rim, which is optional but highly advised: Mix shredded coconut with sea salt and lime juice in whatever ratio you please. Wet the rim of a Collins glass and then dip it into the salt mixture to coat lightly.
Place the Thai basil leaves in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Muddle lightly to release the essential oils. Top with ice cubes to fill the shaker about halfway, and then add the remaining ingredients. Shake lightly to blend, strain only once, then serve.
*Thai Basil-Infused Tequila
Tear up a handful of Thai basil leaves and place them directly into a bottle of good tequila. Leave the bottle in a cool place to infuse for a week, then strain.
**Vanilla Bean Simple Syrup
Prepare a basic simple syrup and incorporate fresh vanilla beans to taste. Strain out the beans and pour into a sterilized bottle, then refrigerate.
101 North Main Street