Orson bar manager Ian Adams shows inspired vision in his cocktails. He's having fun pairing them with a new four-course dinner, but even more so, his everyday cocktails shine with enough twists to keep me intrigued.
Amorosa ($10) comes on the stem in a champagne glass. It exhibits a rosy Campari and house cinnamon-rose kombucha hue, mixed with cachaca and housemade curacao. The elegant kombucha is not too vinegary, but adds a complex, unexpected layer to the drink's gently bitter Campari finish. Refreshing and unique, I'd return for this one. A musky, playful course is taken in Ichi the Killer ($10): rye whiskey and lush amari are balanced with Peychaud's bitters, then given that "little something extra" with pink peppercorn.
Orson is currently running a Blackboard Eats "Hotel California" special menu, a delightful concept of four-course meal with cocktail pairings, each drink and dish named after a line in the Eagles' most famous song. The happiest pairing is "Can't Kill the Beast": maple-glazed roasted pig in a butter Tabasco sauce, over a can't-go-wrong mix of cornbread, pickled peaches and broccolini. Fresno chilies are a genius touch from chef Elizabeth Falkner, nodding to California in a Southern-inspired dinner. "Far Away" is a shoo-in pork companion: bourbon, maple syrup, mint, and muddled peach make for a bright, bracing summer cocktail.
I appreciate the smoky, savory creativity behind the dessert cocktail, "Dance to Forget", utilizing peat standard, Laphroaig 10yr scotch, rich with a house cherry brandy, spicy with ancho chili-infused chocolate and a bit of cayenne. Paired with Falkner's "Last Thing I Remember" (chocolate, smoke, plum and a sweet black olive ice cream reminiscent of chocolate chip), it feels like the right way to end a meal.
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