From garlic beer to kale cocktails, vegetables are taking over the bar. The latest example is the Deadly Nightshade, an eggplant-based drink at New York’s Henry, A Liquor Bar. “I’ve always been of the opinion that nothing’s out of bounds in a cocktail as long as it’s edible,” says its creator Ryan Chetiyawardana.
To make the drink, he splits eggplants, coats them in Demerara sugar, then roasts them to bring out their sweetness and extract moisture. The roasted halves are pureed with the skin (for color as well as “gentle bitterness and vegetal-ness”), mixed with a touch of sugar and water and strained multiple times. He combines the silky puree with "autumnal" Barcardi 8 year-old rum, Lillet Blanc, which adds lightness and acidity, lemon juice and an egg white. The cocktail is shaken, strained into a coupette and garnished with an eggplant crisp.
Chetiyawardana, who is British and spends most of his time in London, took inspiration from Americans' enthusiasm for eggplant in everyday dishes. “In the UK, we just have it in things like moussaka and baba ghanoush,” he says. He does, however, get protests from locals who claim to detest it. “Then they give the cocktail a go and they like the characteristics,” he says. It’s the perfect—or at least the booziest—way to change the minds of those who eschew eggplant.