When was the last time you did something for the first time? For many of the diners walking out of this newly opened West Palm Beach restaurant, the answer to that question might be, "Tonight, at Jardin," when they ordered the house-made aquavit.
At this 6-week-old establishment, chef-owners Jordan Lerman and Stephanie Cohen aren't just making some exceptional food. They're also offering a number of innovative cocktails featuring chef-driven ingredients like house-made spirits and bitters for a bar program they've designed to match the kitchen in innovation and creativity.
"Coming from a place like New York City, where there is so much going on with cocktails and bars, the small things make a big difference when you're talking about what makes a good cocktail versus a great cocktail," says Lerman. "Very few people [here] are squeezing fresh juice daily, cutting their own ice, or making their own syrups and bitters. I'm matching what I do in the kitchen behind the bar."
This week Jardin debuted its summer cocktail menu, a compilation of nouveau and classic craft cocktails that give guests a bold taste of Lerman's seasonal selections including a blood-red hibiscus-infused tequila found in the Avenue; roasted red pepper jam and buttermilk whey blended with High West Western Oat whiskey in the Cherokee; or a snap pea-infused vodka prepared with
If those don't sound outlandish enough, Lerman and Cohen have something extra-special for the truly adventurous, a compilation of cocktails they've filed under the menu's Traveler's Companion section, libations meant to "transport" guests for a more immersive (and intense) drinking experience, says Lerman.
"I like to use some different spirits, stuff that's out there that people haven't heard about, or had a chance to try," says Lerman. "Here, you can expect to find unusual spirits like
It also includes the house-made aquavit — a Scandinavian-style spirit flavored with herbs and spices — that uses a high-proof grain spirit infused via a sous-vide method, a fast-track way to flavor the neutral base with a unique blend of spices including caraway, pine needles, juniper, and dill.
The resulting infusion, dubbed Loki, is mixed with a house dill cucumber shrub and blanc vermouth for a smooth yet potent cocktail. The drink pairs well with anything that has a touch of dill or cucumber, adds Lerman, including the house-made coffee-cured
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Also new to the summer menu Traveler's Companion section is the Blackout Blazer, Lerman's take on the Blue Blazer, considered the first "flaming" cocktail and signature drink created by American bartender Jerry Thomas. Note: You can only order this one at the bar. The liquor — Booker's bourbon, sugar, and lemon juice — is set afire and passed back and forth between two metal mixing glasses, a delicate process that's meant to create an arcing flame.
"I'm inspired by the classics, but I'm also about pushing the boundaries and getting people to try something new," says Lerman. "Just like in the kitchen, you might find ingredients behind the bar that aren't too familiar, but when you have someone who knows how to use them, anything can taste good."
Jardin is located at 330 Clematis St., West Palm Beach. Call 561-440-5273, or visit jardinrestaurant.com.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.