Chicago bartenders have been pulling out unique bottles and bitters for a while now, but what about really obscure ingredients—like alfalfa, for example? That’s the premise of Double A’s new A to Z Cocktail Challenge, in which tipplers present bartender Paul Sauter with a different, unexpected ingredient each week. You can submit an ingredient with the letter of the week via Twitter with the hashtag #DoubleA-Z and then bar staff select which suggestion they want Sauter to use. The challenge kicked off last Wednesday, when Sauter tackled his first ingredient: alfalfa.
He decided to add the plant to a shaker along with cynar, honey thinned with hot water, fresh lemon juice, an egg white, and Cointreau. Then he strained the mix into a glass and topped it with a dash of orange bitters and an alfalfa garnish. The drink, named Alpha Fi, had vegetal undertones from the alfalfa, which played nicely with the cynar.
I asked Sauter if there’s anything he’s afraid of being required to add to a cocktail, but he said he’s excited about the idea of working with unexpected ingredients.
“I want to use something where I have to go into the kitchen and ask, ‘how do I use this?’” he said. “I love getting into the kitchen when I can.”
The specialty cocktails are available each Wednesday and Thursday, and this week’s B cocktail will feature buttermilk. As of Monday evening, Sauter was thinking about doing a buttermilk pancake and maple syrup cocktail and calling it “Breakfast in Bed.”
Find out which ingredient is next by following Double A on Twitter @DoubleAChi. If you suggest the ingredient of the week—they’re currently looking for C ingredients—you’ll get a $25 gift certificate to Double A to go in and try the cocktail.