When trying to decide what to drink, sipping vinegar has never crossed my mind. But in certain Asian countries (particularly China and Japan), the ingredient is thought to carry palate-cleansing qualities as well as medicinal benefits, such as reducing stress, soothing stomachaches, and detoxifing the body. These drinking vinegars, as they're known, are making their way onto menus stateside. Find them locally at Cherry Creek's Phat Thai.
The restaurant originally served the vinegars as nonalcoholic beverages by distilling them with fruit (blueberry) or spices (tamarind) to counter the acidity and impart a mild juice flavor. But chef-owner Mark Fischer has since moved on to cocktails. You'll find three options on the current menu—along with a food pairing for each ($13 per pairing). None carry the traditional sour vinegar taste; rather, the astringency is mellowed by the mix of alcohol and soda water.
Of the trio of options, the blackberry bramble cocktail (pictured left) is the most successful. Jim Beam bourbon is infused with Colorado honey and then stirred with blackberry vinegar and soda water for a sip that's full-bodied without being overpowering. This beverage goes perfectly with the rich short-rib tacos. The other two options are a tamarind-based bangerang (pairing: oysters topped with Thai-cucumber mignonette) and an it-goes-down-too-easy blueberry-lemonade (pairing: bahn mi sliders).
Hush Hush: Phat Thai has a secret "happy ending pairings" menu. Whisper "love you long time" to your server between 4 and 7 p.m. daily, and you'll open the door to three options: Steamworks' Third Eye Pale Ale with a chicken slider; Sauvignon Blanc with a pork belly skewer; and a ginger cosmo with grilled beef in lettuce.
2900 E. Second Ave., 303-388-7428
THIS STORY WAS PART OF 5280's 20 DAYS OF GIVEAWAYS!