Where: Range, 5335 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Bartender: Owen Thomson
Mystery Ingredient: Cilantro
Bartender Response: A slight, almost imperceptible shrug. “That’s pretty much what we do every day. People ask for random things. Just kinda get used to it, I guess,” he said.
What We Got: A fizzy, foamy, cilantro-laced mezcal, grapefruit, and lemon concoction with a chili-pepper kick.
How It Tasted: Totally refreshing on one of the first swampy spring days of the year. The cilantro hit the nose more than the taste buds but didn’t overpower the drink. To smooth out the herb’s soapy taste, Thomson added egg white. Resist the urge to overmuddle herbs, Thomson says: A vigorous shake with ice will do the trick.
Improv Points: 3. Thomson currently has a mezcal cocktail on Range’s menu, Los Rudos, which includes mezcal, Lillet Blanc, grapefruit, and egg white. This felt a little like a variation on that, but it worked. All the flavors built on one another, almost like a flow chart from cilantro to citrus to mezcal to the spicy pepper syrup.
1 egg white
2 ounces of Vida organic mezcal
¾ ounces of chili syrup (simple syrup infused with dried chili peppers)
¾ ounces lemon juice
½ ounce grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
Crack egg and drain egg white into cocktail shaker. Add mezcal, chili syrup, lemon, and grapefruit juices and shake. Add cilantro and ice to shaker and shake again. Fill tall glass a quarter full with soda water, and strain cocktail into glass. Garnish with single cilantro leaf.
Photo by Adele Chapin