Keeping it simple: not exactly a modus operandi for the craft cocktail movement. Nowadays, with the advent of molecular mixology, it’s not uncommon to see drinks with all sorts of unorthodox infusions and collections of ingredients that read more like a laundry list than a recipe. If you crave quality without complexity, do yourself a favor and check out the menu at Five Restaurant (2086 Allston Way #5) in Berkeley, CA.
With a rotating list of food and drink that changes with the season, Five is an establishment ever-mindful of time and place. For the autumn months, they’re serving up some heart-warming spirits that are at once comforting and familiar. As their Food & Beverage Director, Patrice Brault, pointed out, they succeed at making cocktails with flavors that customers can easily identify–nothing crazy or exotic.
In the Fall we adjust to a changing climate and the bartenders at Five have created some unique libations to reflect the cold and damp characteristics of this time of year. To wit, I was delighted with their Harvest. Showcasing the flavors of the season, this no-nonsense combo of Seagram’s Gin and Bulleit Rye is invigorated with a a dash of spiced simple syrup–made in house. The resulting aroma is reminiscent of mulled wine, but the flavor of the drink eschews sweetness in favor of the lingering peaty notes of a bold Bourbon. Warming me up from the inside out, it provided a flavor that would be immediately recognizable to any seasoned drinker. It was also a spectacular complement to their prosciutto-laced pear salad.
I was similarly impressed by their skillfully-crafted Brando. This wondrous wallop subdued the more intimidating tones of Famous Grouse Scotch Whiskey with a touch of Luxardo Amaretto, tied together under a nice neat bow of a 1/4oz. of Benedictine liqueur. A spiraling garnish of lemon zest insured that the finished product was nearly as pleasing to behold as it was to imbibe. Paired with savory slices of pork tenderloin and Brussels sprouts, the nuanced spices of the season were on full display.
The mixologists at Five are able to walk a fine line, producing drinks that are expertly arranged yet easily approachable. If you’re a fan of this time of year, their Autumn offerings are sure to please your senses. And not with an array of trendy novelties but with straight forward elements that are simply done right.