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Cocktail trends: Unique ingredients making Capital Region cocktail lists

If you cast your mind back a decade or more, you might be hard pressed to name bars in the Capital Region with really compelling hand-crafted cocktails that matched the mixology trend flourishing nationwide. If you spent time in any major city from New York City to Washington D.C. and L.A., chances are you sipped drinks at a bar counter crowded with bitters and tinctures or had a bespoke cocktail crafted to the three adjectives describing your current mood. Word-of-mouth speakeasies are no longer the underground backbone of the cocktail scene, but their legacy is visible on cocktail menus powered by foraged ingredients, vegetal spirits and spices more common in a kitchen than a bar. In this new cocktail series, I’ll be tracking cocktail trends and showcasing a few beautifully balanced drinks you can find upstate. The Earl Grey Marteani (see what they did there?) at MOSU Asian BBQ & Hot Pot in Colonie is topped with an egg-white foam. The ingredient: TEA

Scan the seasonal cocktail list at Mosu and you’ll spot several tea-infused spirits like Lapsong Souchang-infused scotch whiskey in The Cure and tea-infused gin in an Earl Grey martini. Brewed tea is already a bar standard in classic cocktails like Planter’s Punch, but by using specific fragrant teas like Earl Grey, rose or matcha layer delicate, herbal notes without sweetness, and the flavor intensity can be controlled depending whether the tea is infused in the chosen spirit, brewed or used as a flavoring for simple syrup.

The drink: Earl Grey Marteani

Where to find it: MOSU Asian BBQ & Hot Pot, Wolf Road, Colonie

At Mosu, the Earl Grey Marteani is something like the love child of a French 75 and a Clover Club, cocktails that date back to the 1920s. Served in a coupe, the Earl Grey tea’s prominent bergamot and citrus flavors pair beautifully with gin, fresh squeezed lemon, a little raw sugar and a light egg-white froth. Using burrata whey, the liquid left over from the cheese-making process, Belt Line 3 in Albany adds a foamy top to their Belt Line Burratatail. The ingredient: BURRATA WATER

A few years back, the drinks world couldn’t get enough of aquafaba (the brine you usually drain from a can of chickpeas) as a vegan alternative to raw egg whites used to create a buoyant foam for cocktails. Then in 2019, Piper Kristensen, beverage director at Oxalis, Brooklyn, built a Breakfast Martini using burrata whey — the liquid byproduct from making the cheese — to boost texture. It’s high in protein, high in acidity and light in salinity, so the whey adds body to stirred drinks and creates an egg-white style foam when shaken. The drink: Belt Line Burratatail

Where to find it: Belt Line 3, Hamilton Street, Albany, beltline3.com

Bar Manager Sam Haas, formerly of Poppy’s in Seattle, and General Manager Emmanual Treski formerly of Speakeasy 518 in Albany, collaborated on the cocktails, but Treski is behind the softly blackcurrant-hued gin cocktail using Old Tom, […]

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