Bartender: Sebastian Zutant
Where: Red Hen, 1822 1st St. NW
Mystery Ingredient: Ginger-flavored Capital Kombucha
Bartender Response: Turns out Zutant is a kombucha fanboy. “I literally drink kombucha every other day,” he said. “I thought the ingredient would be, like, oxblood or something.”
What We Got: Zutant wasted no time whipping up a mezcal and Aperol concoction topped with fizzy kombucha and a sprig of mint. The way the ginger kombucha hovered over the peachy-orange Aperol and mezcal mixture was quite pretty.
How It Tasted: Instead of trying to cover up the kombucha’s trademark funk, Zutant embraced it. “That’s sort of the idea with the mezcal, the smoky kind of works with it. It sort of meets in the middle,” he said. The Aperol cut some of the kombucha’s residual sugar, but Zutant added a bit of simple syrup for richness and texture. The result? A refreshing and savory cocktail you could sip all day.
Improv Points (1 to 5): 4. The lime, Aperol, and mezcal all worked beautifully together. But maybe this ingredient was too easy for Zutant? He said the D.C.-based Capital Kombucha brand was intro-level as far as kombuchas go. “I’ve had some really intense kombucha,” he said. “Celestial Seasonings? I took a sip of that, it snapped my eyeballs back.”
1 1/2 ounces Ilegal Joven Mezcal
1/4 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce Aperol
1/4 ounce lime juice
2 1/2 or 3 ounces ginger-flavored Capital Kombucha
Sprig of mint for garnish
Add mezcal, simple syrup, Aperol, and lime juice to a rocks glass filled with ice. Top with kombucha, and add mint garnish and cute straw, if desired.
Photo by Adele Chapin