Classic-based cocktails cool the fire of Fat Dragon Bar-B-Q
The cocktail program at Fat Dragon Bar-B-Q (566 Powell Street) isn’t large and is firmly rooted in the classics, and bar manager Matt Martin plans to keep it that way.
“They’re straightforward, direct, honest cocktails,” Martin said from behind the modest but well-stocked bar during a media event on July 18. “We’re trying to keep the integrity of the base spirit.”
The outcome is five handcrafted cocktails ($8.50 to $10.50) that incite the familiarity of traditional bar beverages while introducing unexpected touches of Asian flavour and smokiness, which complements the dishes from the restaurant’s East-meets-South kitchen. Fat Dragon is owned by long-time restaurant partners Robert Belcham and Tom Doughty, who also preside over Campagnolo and Campagnolo Roma, and first-time restaurant owner and executive chef Ted Anderson. The food is American Southern barbeque with an East Asian twist, maintained by chef de cuisine Adam Johnson.
Fat Dragon’s Lotusland cocktail is savoury and refreshing.
The July tasting began with the cheerful and summery Junmai Sour, a light and frothy pink-hued cocktail consisting of fruit tea-infused sake, gin, lemon, simple syrup, orange blossom, and egg white. The tea-infused sake is created in-house using loose-leaf tea from DavidsTea, resulting in a heady floral fragrance that balances the cocktail’s sour tang. Contrastingly, the Lotusland, which was served next, has a much more complex savoury flavour that pairs well with the dry spices of the steamed bao bun ($2.50) filled with crispy fried squid, scallions, coriander, and spicy smoked chili salt. The Lotusland is made with gin, sherry, fresh lime juice, sprigs of coriander, galangal (a member of the ginger family but with a menthol aroma), and red Thai chili-infused agave.
The Fat-hattan is finished with flamed orange zest.
Fans of Manhattans may want to order the Fat-hattan, which combines Maker’s Mark bourbon with smoked Italian red vermouth and old fashioned bitters. The Cinzano vermouth is placed in the Fat Dragon’s Southern-style smoker (which came all the way from Missouri) along with cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and orange peel—while the pork bellies are in there—for two hours, and the drink is finished off with flamed orange zest. The darker smoky profile of the Fat-hatten was paired with a sample of the crispy beef dry ribs ($19), a fall-off-the bone beef rib marinated in soy and brown-sugar glaze, fried garlic, and scallions worth getting your fingers sticky for.
The cocktail tasting concluded with the dessert-esque Nana-Mo, barman Martin’s take on an Old Fashioned. His version is made with dark Old Sam rum from Guyana, black jack (sugar that has been taken beyond caramelization to achieve a bittersweet quality), chocolate bitters, and orange. While not quite dessert, the slow-cooked lamb ribs ($18) combine well with the drink, as the cocktail brings out the ribs’ sweet char siu marinade and orangey aroma.
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