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Bartender: Uros Jojic

Where: Ambar, 523 8th St. SE

Mystery Ingredient: Chia seeds

Bartender Response: Jojic had never even heard of chia seeds. He decided to look to Mexico, the seeds’ place of origin. Mezcal it is!

What We Got: Whatever ingredient I brought, Jojic was going to make sure the cocktail contained rakia, a fermented fruit liqueur that’s the traditional drink of Serbia and the star of the restaurant’s bar menu. In addition to the mezcal and pear rakia, Jojic added fall flavors like pear, cinnamon, and star anise. The chia seeds were sprinkled into the pear puree liberally and dusted on an orange wedge for a pretty garnish. Sour mix and simple syrup punched up the flavors.

How It Tasted: Since Jojic isn’t a chia-seed enthusiast, he didn’t soak the seeds to create a gel-like texture, which would’ve been interesting. Instead, the chia seeds floated around in the drink, adding a crunch you don’t often get in cocktails. Still, it was a nice sipper for a warm day, while incorporating some autumnal flavors. The smoky pears really did it. “I just love the pear and the mezcal,” Jojic said.

Improv Points (1 to 5): 3. The pear rakia gave the drink a boozy punch, though I wish it had a stronger connection to Mexico beyond just mezcal. (Jojic probably could’ve used a tip to soak the seeds.)

Recipe:

3/4 ounce pear rakia

3/4 ounce Vida Mezcal

1/2 ounce sour mix

1/2 ounce chia seeds pear puree*

Orange slice

Combine rakia and mezcal with sour mix and pear puree. Shake lightly over ice, then strain into a fresh glass of ice. Scatter chia seeds over orange slice and then add to the glass as a garnish.

*To make pear puree, grind 1/2 star anise. Combine star anise with 1 whole canned pear, 1 ounce of simple syrup, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Puree in blender.

Photo by Adele Chapin