If you set aside the requisite home-brewed beer this spec calls for, this operation is pretty approachable. Thankfully, my buddy Robert in Atlanta was kind enough and gracious enough to actually brew this beer for me, so I didn’t have to set it aside. And let me tell you, if you can pull it off, it’s worth it! The Berliner Weisse recipe is based on the Evil Twin Bushido beer, which was brewed specifically for The Aviary. Good luck finding this one at your local cash n’ carry. I thought it was very cool that they included the brew recipe in the book. I don’t brew beer, so I knew I was out of my element, but I begged and groveled to my buddy, and he accepted the challenge. Actually, he said it was a pretty easy beer to brew. The result was spectacular. Here’s the description of the beer from Evil Twin Brewing:
The code of conduct for the samurai, Bushido, held that the true warrior must show loyalty, courage, respect, integrity, gratitude, compassion, and above all, honor. Same unwritten code went into the making of this beer. A loyal and grateful collaboration with Micah Melton of the Aviary in Chicago and New York. With deep respect and compassion for the ingredients we brewed a courageous take on a Berliner Weisse and respectfully added yuzu and chili. The result – Bushido. It was truly an honor.
If you’re unlucky enough not to have a brewer friend, I suppose, reluctantly, you could substitute another beer. If I were pressed to choose, I’d probably recommend subbing a different Berliner Weisse, which would necessarily be lacking the yuzu and the togarashi, but since the cocktail base contains yuzu and heat from shishito and serrano peppers, I think you’d be OK. You could also employ something like the Habanero Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point, but the habanero and the hoppiness would dramatically change the entire experience.
I waited patiently for a couple months while this beer was custom brewed for me. When it finally arrived, I was giddy! I immediately rearranged my schedule to make this cocktail. Here are the steps:
Micah’s Hot Sauce
Mix vingegar, shishito pepper juice (I bought fresh shishito peppers from amazon – for real), serrano pepper juice (in case you’re wondering, the pepper juice comes from passing the peppers through a juicer – it’ll clear out the house!), kosher salt, xanthan gum, black pepper, and water. Blend it all and strain through a superbag. Reserve in a glass bottle. This stuff is really good. It’s less potent than your typical bottled hot sauce, but I feel the shishito peppers give this a very unique taste that’s unlike any other hot sauce I’ve had. The recipe yields much more than you’ll need for the cocktail. I froze the extra into 2-inch cubes.
The Cocktail Base
This is a mix of yuzu juice, kalamansi syrup (a mix of kalamansi puree and sugar), and Micah’s Hot Sauce. This is a funky concoction and seems to hold up well in the fridge for a few days.
After the beer, this is my favorite part of this cocktail. It is spectacular and I’ve been sprinkling it on everything. Here’s what’s in it: ground coriander seeds, kosher salt, accent (MSG), spray-dried soy sauce powder, spray-dried distilled vinegar powder, citric acid. Get ready for your taste buds to sing an opera.
Put It All Together
Wipe the outside rim of the glass with a cut lime. Sprinkle on some of the spice. Lick your fingers. Rejoice. Now back to the cocktail. Fill the glass with ice, add an ounce of the cocktail base, an ounce of very cold Suntory Toki Whisky, the fill it up with the beer. The spec calls for 4 ounces. This didn’t fill my glass, so I doubled everything up. You can give it a little stir. The final result is excellent.
I ended up making this cocktail again for a group of about 12 friends I get together with a few times a year. Robert’s a part of that group, and it was a great way to showcase his fantastic beer and this delicious cocktail. I’ll admit, I find the updated 2017 version of this drink pretty intimidating, so I’m not sure when I’ll be tackling that.