“We’re food-focused here,” says Britt Tracy. “We need drinks to come out fast, but still be ingredient-focused and balanced.” Britt has been helming the bar at Heyday since it opened nearly two years ago. Recently, she noticed a cook pitting Kalamata olives. “There’s still lots of flesh on those pits,” she remembers thinking. “They’re like cherry pits. You could infuse a vinegar, but, I thought, what else could I do?”
What Tracy did was soak three-fourths cup of pits in a liter of Gordon’s gin for three days. The result was a sweet and savory infusion—a perfect canvas for layering some beautiful aperitifs in this month’s cocktail. Saler’s is a bold and bittersweet aperitif wine that’s also wonderful on the rocks with a squeeze of lemon. Bonal Gentiane-Quina is full of woodsy, bitter notes that play to the fat and sweetness of the olives.
“It’s not a savory cocktail,” Tracy says. “It just has a lot going on. There’s just a little lemon juice to maintain the brightness, and the salt solution brings the olive flavor to the forefront.”
The cocktail is soft, light, and bittersweet. It doesn’t taste overtly like olives, more like the suggestion of something briny underneath an herbal-sweet sip. Just like the food at Heyday, the setup is a tad complicated, but the flavors come together with confidence and clarity. This one will get you talking.
Something to Talk About
- 2 ounces Kalamata olive pit-infused gin
- 1 ounce Saler’s gentian liqueur
- ½ ounce lemon juice
- ¼ ounce Bonal Gentiane-Quina (or other sweet vermouth)
- ¼ ounce simple syrup (1:1)
- A few drops of salt solution (1:3 salt to water)
- Tonic water
Add the first six ingredients to a shaker half-filled with ice, and shake lightly just to aerate a touch. Strain into a Collins glass, add fresh ice almost to the brim, and top with tonic. Garnish with a skewered olive.