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Summer's Hottest Cocktail Ingredient is Unexpected

Lauren Finney | August 15, 2019 | Food & Drink

You might have seen a peculiar color popping up in your cocktails this summer: purple. Any restaurant or bar worth their cocktail salt has keyed into butterfly pea flower, the hottest ingredient du jour. It has actually been around for centuries and was previously used for dyes or for medicinal tea in Southeast Asia, but now bartenders are hip to its deep indigo color, which turns a pleasant purple when mixed with an acid like lemon juice. (For the chemistry geeks out there, it’s down to the pH balance.) Here are a few to boggle your mind and whet your whistle.


The Nam Dok at Chai Yo Modern Thai
Made from vodka, falernum (a sweet-and-spicy syrup), butterfly pea flower and citrus, it’s the O.G. purple drink in town. It’s one of 12 signature cocktails that uses inventive ingredients often found in Southeast Asian recipes, such as lemongrass, coconut and kaffir lime. You’ll also find experimental ingredients in their cocktails like cactus and Irish whiskey, all of which pair nicely with their modern Thai interpretations. 3050 Peachtree St NW, Ste. 8, 404. 464.7980


Reduced to Ashes at Saltwood Charcuterie and Bar at The Loews Atlanta Hotel
The Loews Atlanta Hotel’s Saltwood in Midtown has gotten a bit of a culinary facelift thanks to new executive chef Fabrien Biraud, new restaurant chef Michael Manley and a new director of outlets and bar program, Ramsey Kashlan. Kashlan comes from Hartsfield’s acclaimed One Flew South, which was previously nominated for a James Beard Award. For his Reduced to Ashes he combines tequila, mezcal, fresh lime juice—again, that acid—butterfly pea flower tea, rosemary and a bit of magic thanks to aquafaba, the frothy juice of chickpeas that mimics egg whites. 1065 Peachtree St NE, 404.745.5745


Mission + Market
Mission + Market, the year-old restaurant from executive chef Ian Winslade and his partners Tony Akly and Johnathan Akly, is already a Buckhead staple for both business and pleasure. Their ever-rotating beverage program is just as delightful to look at as it is sip. Take, for example, the cheekily named Ode to Betty, made with butterfly pea flower-infused vodka, grapefruit and soda. It’s the perfect tonic to a long lunch meeting. Three Alliance Center, 404.948.2997


Photography by: 1. Andrew Thomas Lee/Chai Yo Modern Thai | 2. Lauren Finney | 3. Elisabeth Akly/ Mission + Market