The Crippled Creek at 320 Main, Our Drink of the Week
The week our Happy Hour issue came out featuring the Orange County Bartenders Cabinet, 320 Main owner and Seal Beach's favorite mad Michigander, Jason Schiffer, mentioned that he was working on a cocktail using mustard.
Polite, slow, disbelieving blinking; nobody creates cocktails using mustard. The number of bars that stock mustard for anything besides the occasional soft pretzel could probably be counted on one hand.
Schiffer does, though, and after much tinkering and quasi-dangerous experimentation, the Crippled Creek is on the menu at 320 Main. The drink is made of Angel's Envy bourbon--the delight of craft bartenders and hipster cocktail enthusiasts nationwide--with lemon juice, pomegranate molasses and Dijon mustard, shaken with a cucumber wheel. It's served in an Old-Fashioned glass with a wheel of cucumber onto which some celery seed has been shaken.
To drink one of these is to have your cocktail paradigm shifted without a clutch. The mustard is there, subtly adding a slight head and a slight acidity to the drink, but the drink is not mustard-flavored. It's slightly sweet, slightly smoky, with a vanilla undertone from the woodsy flavor bomb that is Angel's Envy, and a savory, almost tannic punch from the mustard. It seems trite and cliché to describe a drink as more-ish, but there's no better way to describe it; having finished one, you will want another, and possibly a third, at which point you will discover why it's not a good idea to drink three bourbon drinks in quick succession, mustard or no mustard.
Incidentally, the garnish is as integral to the drink as the bourbon; after the garnish mysteriously disappeared midway through the drink, the mustard flavor became too astringent. Leave the cucumber and its random-seeming celery seeds in the drink until the end, then--assuming you're not on a hot date where you need to remain smooth--fish it out and eat it.
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