What It's Like To Be The Prettiest Cocktail in The Room

There's a new cocktail at the Clever Koi that's so pretty, so ornamental, and so aromatic, you'd have to second-guess the statement that we live in "sour times," even if the drink takes its name from the 1994 Portishead song of the same title. 

The Sour Times cocktail is a vibrant and deep shade of purple that gives way to a thin, pale pink hat of foam. The drink is then crowned with an absurd amount of fresh herbs, including a fat bundle of sage, Thai basil, mint, and rosemary — a far cry from the sprig most drinks get.

“It’s a visually appealing, garden-style sour," says Joshua James, co-owner of the Clever Koi. "We wanted something with both a feminine and a masculine touch. It’s really pretty, and you also get a ton of aromatics.”

Okay, so sure, the drink is pretty. But how does it taste?

Well, the drink menu describes the Sour Times as, “light, sour, jammy, grassy.” 

Though it looks like a dream and smells like a garden, the Sour Times tastes immediately like lavender. There’s a stiff jigger of Hayman’s Old Tom Gin (a little sweeter than most gin, and a little more floral), which is also used in the Clever Koi's briny House Martini. To this, James adds a lavender-infused wildflower honey from Tucson, noting that “wildflower honey has more depth and body." Finally, he adds fresh blackberries, lime and lemon juice, and an egg white.

According to James, the drink falls under the category of "sour," the same family of citrus-centric drinks that includes the margarita. And with the addition of egg whites, it also becomes a flip. With these distinctions, the Sour Times most closely resembles a pisco sour, albeit one made with gin that’s been dragged first through the blackberry patch and then through the garden.

The Sour Times, which debuted with the rest of the Clever Koi's summer menu at the tail end of March, will be around all season.

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Shelby Moore