Chefs Collaborative National Summit 2011 - New Orleans : Adam Seger Hum Spirits
Crescent City Serenade
A spirited tea punch made from biodynamic rose petal chai tea, Hum Botanical Spirit, Death’s Door Organic Gin, Cresecent City Farmer’s Market cucumbers, Hollyfield Farm Tatsumas, Sweet Potato Syrup, PawPaws NOLA wildflower honey, Mayhaw-Jalapeno Gastrique
One evening during the National Restaurant Association Show I was fortunate enough to join Donna Hood Crecca, editor of Cheers, for dinner at Nacional 27, an acclaimed restaurant in Downtown Chicago that features central and south American cuisine. The evening’s fare was indeed amazingly delicious, but Donna and I weren’t there necessarily for the food, we chose the venue for its cocktails.
Among the restaurant’s many stellar attributes, none shine brighter than talents and irrepressible wit of general manager, sommelier and world-class bar chef, Adam Seger. Few people have his far-reaching creative vision when it comes to infusing cocktails with fresh, savory ingredients. He works behind the bar like a ninja, concocting, muddling and shaking one thoroughly engaging concoction after another, all the while nimbly avoiding colliding with the fast-moving bartenders.
Our first cocktail of the evening was a Rhubarb Sour. I wouldn’t have thought to order it, but the drink was light and eminently refreshing. It was a delicately flavored gem that lilted gently over the palate. The concoction featured Biandi Pisco, fresh lemon juice, rhubarb flavored simple syrup and several dashes of Seger’s own bitters.
Scanning that night’s beverage menu the cocktail that immediately caught my attention was the Market Mojitonico, a signature drink prepared with flowering chive-infused gin. The tall infusion vessel was perched on the bar top and its contents looked mighty tempting. Adam prepared the concoction with gusto, vigorously muddled a handful of limes and served the drink in an iced bucket glass. It was lightly effervescent, flavorful and aromatic. The specialty was a sterling example of “sessionable,” a drink that can be enjoyed throughout an evening without it becoming without it becoming tiring, overbearing, or otherwise unsuitable.
Before Donna and I were ushered to our table, Adam presented us each with a luscious cocktail called the Luxe el Corazon and I fell in love all over again. The drink was made with Corzo Añejo Tequila, ruby red grapefruit juice and a float of mezcal poured from a half of a lime turned inside out. The mezcal added a delectable smoky quality that elevated the drink to a whole new dimension. The salt and cracked pepper rim capped off the experience.
During dinner Adam served us Carl Schmitt-Wagner Riesling with our mussels appetizers. While we slurped and guzzled he recounted what it was like to work at this small vineyard located on the steep slopes of the Mosel. The next wave of appetizers was accompanied by another Seger original, the Dark & Extra Stormy, a magnificent blend of Gosling’s Family Reserve Rum and habanero ale.
With dessert he brought to our table a tray of liqueurs and cordials that he has been tinkering with. The best and brightest of the lot was infused with fresh lavender. Its bouquet was brilliant and the palate ideally balanced.
When next in Chicago make sure to carve out an evening to go to Nacional 27. As you walk into the restaurant check out the flowerbeds on the patio. They contain a number of singular varieties of mint that Seger is cultivating for use in his drinks.