Plush, preserved plums are a home cure for sore throats and nausea in Vietnam, where they're muddled with sugar and lengthened with sparkling water in a remedy called xi muoi.
These same Vietnamese stone fruits flavor the Black Phosphate, an intriguing, complex cocktail on the list at Booty's, the just-opened cantina in the Bywater. There's a global bent to the drink, in keeping with Booty's focus on great street foods of the world.
In his Black Phosphate, Booty's barman Jeremy JF Thompson blends the Vietnamese plum water with an Indian-influenced syrup, made by cooking down a broth of cherry juice, a garam masala (cloves, cardamom) and boozy, housemade cinnamon extract.
Paired with dry gin and club soda, this plum water and spiced syrup make for an exotic Tom Collins: leading with sour plum notes and a cherry palate that's fruity but not sweet, and echoing the gin's botanicals in a fresh way.
You'll notice a mild bite throughout, which comes from the plum water (the fruit's preserved with salt) and acid phosphate, which tightens up the drink and adds a crisp texture.
Fans of Darcy O'Neil's "Fix the Pumps" (Jeremy and I are in that number) know that soda fountain pharmacists once served acid phosphate on its own as a stimulant; they liked its bright qualities that outlasted citric acid, and was more flavor-neutral, besides.
O'Neil's history ends as soda fountains and their "medicinal" drinks gave way to aluminum cans, bottles and vending machines, a decline that was complete by the late 1960s.
Driscoll's Pharmacy, which closed in 1968, once stood in the building now occupied by Booty's. Finding a plummy cocktail with roots in two far-flung strains of home remedies - xi muoi and acid phosphate - is a toast to that history, and to the travels we have yet to make.
Booty's, 800 Louisa Street, 266.2887
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