The Torpedo © Emily Hsu
We use oils in just about every aspect of our lives: cooking, cleaning, car maintenance. Now bartenders are using oils—sparingly—in cocktails, for their intense aromas and flavors.
At Los Angeles’s new Koreatown speakeasy Lock & Key, sesame oil garnishes bartender Christophe Namer’s cocktail The Torpedo. The drink is so good it earned Namer the job of head bartender. “It was the first cocktail he made for me; that was when I knew he was the guy,” says Lock & Key’s owner Cyrus Batchan. The Torpedo is made with pear-flavored Grey Goose La Poire, maple syrup, pear nectar, fresh lemon juice, ginger juice, cracked black pepper and an egg white. Namer shakes the ingredients together hard enough to create a frothy top and strains the cocktail into a large coupette. He garnishes it with three small drops of ultra-fragrant toasted sesame seed oil. “The first thing to do is bring the drink up to your nose,” Batchan says.
The dots of sesame oil aren’t large enough to lend the drink an oily texture or impart extra weight. Instead, they give off a toasty, sesame-packed aroma that sets a savory stage for the lightly sweet drink. Batchan and Namer went through multiple droppers and spritzers before they found the perfect tool—a hair color applicator—for delivering the minute dots. Here, more drinks enhanced by flavored oils.