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Where: Béarnaise, 315 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
Bartender: Catherine Ker
Mystery Ingredient: Pickled beets
Bartender Response: “I think beets are delicious,” Ker said, though she confessed to some nerves when she saw that the packaged beets were pickled. “When I saw vinegar, I thought ‘Oh no,’ but it’s so popular in drinks now,” Ker said, referencing the wave of shrubs, or drinking vinegars, that have swept bars in D.C. in the past year.
What We Got: A beet margarita with Lillet Rose, Herradura Reposado tequila, and citrus salt around the rim of the glass.
How It Tasted: The citrus salt proved addictive, and the smooth, earthy drink has the potential to convert beet haters. A touch of sweetness and smoke countered the vinegar.
Improv Points (1 to 5): 4. I loved Ker’s infectious beet enthusiasm. She managed to get a lot of juice out of them and let the gorgeous color stand out. The beet margarita turned out to be surprisingly elegant.
2 tablespoons Maldon sea salt
Zest of one orange
3 cooked pickled beets (We used Love Beets)
1 ounce Herradura Reposado tequila
1 egg white
1/4 ounce lemon juice
1/4 ounce lime juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup
1/4 ounce Lillet Rose
To make citrus salt: Combine Maldon sea salt with the zest of one orange, and crush the two ingredients together until the salt has dried out the zest. Set aside.
Place three cooked beets in a wide, flat dish, and use muddler to mash. Take 1 ounce of the beet juice and add splash of soda water to loosen beets. Press the mixture through a fine strainer and add to a shaker. Combine the tequila, egg white, lemon, lime, simple syrup and Lillet Rose into the shaker. Shake 25 times, add ice, and shake 25 more times.
Double strain the drink into the a salt-rimmed coupe. Use a melon baller to scoop out a piece of beet for garnish and add a long twist of orange peel.
Photo by Adele Chapin