Philabeverage: Emmanuelle goes to the light side

The NoLibs bar unveils a refreshing, warm-weather cocktail menu.

Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted May. 29, 2013

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For many of us, the tendency this time of year is to begin the slow process of dumbing down what we drink. It makes sense in theory: Winter’s chill is the perfect time to find ourselves elbow-deep in a layered, more demanding cocktail, for setting up an Everest-style base-camp at the bar and scaling a mountain of drinks that requires real care and attention to consume.

After months of drinking like that, who can blame us for craving something lighter and perhaps a bit fruity?

Heres the thing, though: Imbibing more warm-weather-appropriate concoctions doesn’t mean drinking like someone who just turned 21. And no, just because it’s T-shirt weather doesn’t mean all of your drinks have to be saccharine-sweet and neon-bright in color.

Which is where the new springtime cocktail menu at Emmanuelle comes in. Created by Phoebe Esmon and Christian Gaal, it has been a work in progress for months, the two of them cooking up cauldrons of magical potions at home and at the NoLibs bar. The result is a gathering of cocktails that’s instantly appealing and appropriate for the season, yet never panders down to a lowest common denominator of stereotypical warm-weather inanity.

Several weeks ago, I had a chance to check out a number of the new drinks as they were approaching their final stages of development, and the results, as I expected, were stunning. One drink in particular I can’t stop thinking about is the Satyricon, a brilliant assembly of gin, dry curaçao, lemon, cinnamon and cardamom tinctures, and an ingenious red pepper-carrot-ginger syrup. An hour after I tasted it, I was still trying to parse it in my mind: It goes down both dangerously easily (as is the goal of this season’s drinks) and lingers on the palate beautifully. Esmon and Gaal are alchemists as much as they are mixologists, and the payoff of their painstaking work is evident in every sip.

The Baberaham Lincoln, an unexpected gathering of blended scotch, creme de mure, Aperol, absinthe and lemon, starts on a launchpad of the whisky’s smoke and spice and takes off from there into a remarkably bright stratosphere of vivid flavor.

Components ranging from pineapple syrup to orgeat to falernum are crafted by hand, and the result is a palette of flavors that is both familiar in its character and brand new in its intensity and clarity.

My advice? Start hydrating, load up on carbs, and get over to Emmanuelle as soon as possible. You deserve to drink well this summer.

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