Just in time for its first birthday, Milkfish has formally rolled out an inaugural cocktail menu. Milkfish owner and chef Cristina Quackenbush tapped Lindsay Allday to write a list of tropical, Filipino-inflected cocktails showcasing exotic fruits and base spirits made mostly in-house.
The latter distinction hints at Lindsay's ongoing work with High Hat Cafe's Ryan Iriarte (she splits her time between both bars). "Ryan helped me refine my bartending skills; he's guided me into the science of it," says Lindsay.
Her own list features some familiar styles: a caramel-malty Filipino lager pairs with the soft, low-acid, lemony-orange juice of calamansi fruit to make a shandy; that same fruit juice lengthens Champagne in a mimosa (topped by Ryan's own lemongrass bitters).
A classic Philippine shaved ice and milk dessert gets a boozy remake in Lindsay's Big Kid Halo-Halo, drenched in pineapple liqueur and stacked with housemade ice creams, candied beans, coconut gels, and a slice of jackfruit, apricot-textured with a cooked plantain taste.
She also plays with salabat, a fresh, spicy ginger tea brewed with brown sugar and cane syrup, which brings out the aromatics in the housemade, Filipino-style gin (think: vibrant cardamom, star anise, juniper). The Gin Salabat was the most intriguing to me, the one I couldn't quite put down.
Tangy green mango and coconut vinegar make up a shrub, which Lindsay uses in her Phila-Pina to tighten a housemade pineapple liqueur, cranberry and calamansi juices (Milkfish gets many ingredients from Hong Kong market and Kenner's Asian Gourmet, though Cristina has begun growing her own calamansi fruit).
Purple yam (ube) jam, which has a pleasing toasted fruitiness, backs my favorite drink of the bunch, Lindsay's Ube Kapre. Here, she spins a purple yam syrup with coconut vodka and the green mango shrub to make a lush, complex and refreshing sipper.
As she continues to stretch at Milkfish, I'd love to see what she does with Batavia Arrack (an Asian sugar and rice distillate) or even bourbon.
Milkfish, 2401 Burgundy, 327.0635
Rounding out Milkfish's management team is service manager Dean Lambert; Cristina Quackenbush also manages the adjacent Café Nero and Who Dat Coffee Café.
Milkfish will soon add a sweet-sauced Filipino spaghetti (with ground pork and beef, and seared hotdogs), coconut milk ceviche, and fresh lumpia to the menu.
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