• June 2, 2017

Cocktail of the Week: Canary in a Coal Mine

Alexis Jesup
By Eric Twardzik

While the idiomatic “canary in a coal mine” is meant to serve as a warning, uttering the phrase at Viale gets you a delicious mezcal cocktail that’s at once smoky and refreshing.

Inspired by a dessert of plantains and sesame seeds that bar manager Hazel James ordered at a Mexican restaurant, this drink utilizes both ingredients—via a banana liqueur and a house-made toasted sesame syrup—and throws lime juice and a bitter Swiss aperitif into the mix for balance.

“It has all the elements you need,” says James. “It’s a little savory from the sesame and the mezcal, sweet from the banana, and bitter from the Gran Classico. The lime juice adds a bit of acidity to it.”

The final product receives a spritz of toasted sesame oil, which acts as an aromatic garnish. (Purchase the oil at the grocery store and turn it into a spritz using a perfume atomizer from a drug store.)

The drink’s bright yellow color is thanks to Banane du Brésil, which led James on a search for canary idioms. The mine reference is fitting, as it plays into the drink’s smoky character, too.

Canary in a Coal Mine
1 ounce mezcal
¾ ounce Gran Classico Bitter
½ ounce Giffard Banane du Brésil
½ ounce fresh lime juice
½ ounce toasted sesame simple syrup*

Combine ingredients in shaker filled with ice and shake until outside of shaker appears frosty, about twenty seconds. Strain into coupe or martini glass and spritz with toasted sesame oil.

*Toasted Sesame Simple Syrup (yields 1 pint)
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Add dry sesame seeds to a pan and toast on low heat until seeds begin to brown. Remove seeds from heat and grind for a few pulses in food processor or coffee grinder to release oils.

Add water, sugar, and seeds to small saucepan and heat until just boiling. Simmer mixture for five minutes, then remove from heat. Strain out seeds once mixture has cooled. Syrup will keep one month, refrigerated.

BRIAN SAMUELS