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You won't win any points for going on a juice date this Valentine's Day, but luckily bartenders are also incorporating infusions into earthy and beautifully colored cocktails.
Beets are commonly known for their abundance of vitamins and minerals—potassium, fiber, A, B and C, to name a few. But the beautiful red roots are also chock-full of boron—a trace mineral said to increase sex hormone levels—making them natural aphrodisiacs. You won't win any points for going on a juice date this Valentine's Day, but luckily bartenders are also incorporating infusions into earthy and beautifully colored cocktails.
At the revamped Austrian bar Upholstery Store in New York's West Village, the By the Yard cocktail features vodka, beets and horseradish foam. “This was a collaboration by our head bartender and chef de cuisine,” says co-owner Leo Schneemann. “They wanted to do a riff on the Bloody Mary using beets. The horseradish foam really takes it over the top and makes it fun.”
Across town at Amanda Cohen’s newly revived Dirt Candy, a reimagined “pickleback” comes with a shot of chilled vodka and bright, pickled beet juice. "One of our traditions is to have staff drinks after service on Saturday night, while we do a deep cleaning," says Cohen. "At the original location, we were pickling beets, and we had some vodka on hand that we were using in a tempura batter. It was only a matter of time before these two great tastes collided." Cohen prefers the briny, slightly spiced beet version now on offer to those with pickle brine. "It was so delicious that we wanted to share it with customers in the new restaurant, although if we wanted to be truly authentic we'd serve it in plastic pint containers," she adds.
Here, seven more root-studded libations being served around the globe.
ONE Restaurant, Chapel Hill, NC: Beet- and caraway-infused vodka and dill syrup are used for the aptly named Bolshevik cocktail. General manager Scott Palmer vacuum-seals and steeps vodka with roasted beets and toasted caraway for three days. “The idea was to design a fizzy cocktail with a savory flavor profile—beet seemed like a natural partner for caraway, which is found in many aquavits.”
The Park Cafe, Charleston, SC: “I wanted to steer away from the traditional beet-ginger combo,” says co-owner Xan McLaughlin of his Mixed Beets cocktail, where beet puree is shaken with gin, Chareau (an aloe liqueur from California), lemon juice and honey-jalapeño syrup. “I like the freshness of the aloe to balance the earthiness of the beets, and jalapeño enhances with a subtle pop.”
Cibo e Beve, Atlanta: The 120 BPM—that’s beets per minute—features mezcal, smoked beet syrup, lemon juice, thyme and egg whites. “The story behind the name of the cocktail refers to the hard shake followed by the dry shake that I do in which I achieve 120 shakes per minute,” says bar manager Jonathan Turner. “The mezcal’s earthiness and smoky flavors accentuate that of the beets, and the flavors meld together.”
Gardner, Austin: Co-owners Ben Edgerton and Andrew Wiseheart just launched a new spirits program, focusing on complex, often vegetable flavor profiles. GIN features celery root, beet, blood orange and pink peppercorns.
Levant, Portland, OR: The Beet Up cocktail combines aquavit, Raki (a Turkish anise-flavored liqueur), St-Germain, fresh beet juice, lemon juice and three dashes of Aleppo pepper tincture, where Aleppo chiles are steeped in a 2:1 Everclear-to-vodka solution for six hours. “For this drink, I wanted to keep the focus on the beets,” says bar manager Abel Beazley. “I added Raki to add more depth and the St-Germain for a slight floral hint. Beets are naturally sweet, so the hint of Aleppo spice keeps the drink fresh and crisp.”
Spoonbar, Healdsburg, CA: Named after a classic quote from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the Bring Me a Shrubbery cocktail has flavors of Fidencio Clásico mezcal, golden beet shrub, lime, cucumber, fennel, absinthe and black pepper essential oil. Bar manager Tara Heffernon enjoys making herb-infused mezcal cocktails at home. “The golden beet shrub turned out to be one of the more intoxicating flavors of all my shrub experiments. The earthy beets with smoky mezcal somehow made crisp and bright with fresh fennel and citrus makes me happy.”
The Met Bar at the Metropolitan by COMO, London: English beetroot is boiled and pureed, then shaken with Chase vodka, fresh lemon, ginger and cinnamon sugar and topped with a splash of ginger beer for The Root Down cocktail. “We wanted to bring together the best British ingredients using savory flavors not commonly used in cocktails,” says mixologist Lewis Wilkinson. “Chase vodka is perfect for this, as it is produced from potatoes at Rosemaund Farm in Herefordshire, continuing the root/beet theme.”