How one of Ann Arbor’s premier bartenders channels narrative into drinks

. July 26, 2016.

Earlier this summer, bartender Giancarlo Aversa, one of the brain trustees at craft cocktail hideout The Last Word (301 W. Huron), made the Diageo World Class 2016 bar competition national finals by mixing a story-inspired cocktail. Though the regional competition centered around timed metrics including speed and efficiency, it was during the “ritual theatre portion” that Aversa turned to narrative. Alluding to the national competition’s host location, Washington D.C., Aversa devised a cocktail with the city’s influential musical history in mind.

D.C. native Duke Ellington cut his teeth on live piano while working as a soda jerk at the Poodle Dog Café in the 1910s. Because the shop’s working pianist would get too sloshed to perform, the fountain boss would ask Ellington to jump on keys from time to time, which live music foundation the Duke would spin into a legendary career.

Aversa channeled Ellington’s soda fountain tunes by using a soda syphon to craft an orange soda in front of the judges from scratch. He sprinkled additional flavor into his performance by playing notes on a small keyboard, sonically paralleling the juniper notes of the drink’s Tanqueray No. 10 gin.

It’s called the Orange Poodle, which cocktail recipe we’ve included to illustrate the prolix nature of story-inspired bartending.

How to Make an Orange Poodle

Orange Soda Ingredients

  • 2oz Fresh Orange Juice
  • .5oz Simple Syrup (2:1)
  • 1oz Mineral Water
  • 2 Dashes Orange Bitters
  • Charge with CO2

Honey Chamomile Whip Cream Ingredients

  • Chamomile tea
  • Honey
  • Heavy whipped cream

Directions

  1. Brew strong Chamomile Tea
  2. While hot, add equal parts honey so ratio is 1:1
  3. In an iSi whip canister, combine equal parts Honey Chamomile Syrup and Heavy Whip Cream
  4. Charge with NO2

Orange Poodle Directions

  1. Pour orange soda in a glass over ice
  2. Add 1.5 oz Tanqueray Ten
  3. Top with Honey Chamomile Whip Cream
  4. Serve in Perlini or Soda Siphon
  5. Garnish with orange zest and soda straw

 

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