Forequarter, 708 E. Johnson St., is currently sporting one of its strongest cocktail menus yet. The marvelous Roman Spring uses lime cordial and gin to bring out the flavors of watercress. The greens are first super-cooled with liquid nitrogen to preserve their bright flavor and color. The drink captures the complete range of vegetal notes as well as the spiciness of the in-season watercress.
There’s also a Turmeric Collins, employing the earthy yellow Indian spice with a touch of apple cider vinegar and a splash of soda. Turmeric smells a bit like ginger and orange, and its slightly bitter aftertaste is tamed here with honey. It’s slightly medicinal, but intriguing.
The real star may be the Pillows in Gardens. Black tea-infused vodka is milk-washed (the process of steeping liquor with milk or cream to add a savory element and rich texture), then combined with sloe gin, lemon, honey and bitters for a cocktail with a surpassingly smooth heftiness. Texture in cocktails is often overlooked, but a key element to a good craft drink. Pillows in Gardens is a study of texture itself, with a well-balanced flavor that isn’t sweet.
For something lighter, there is a celery tonic, also used in the Vodka Celery. Compelling lavender and coriander notes make for an uplifting, spice-driven flavor — sure to lift any leftover wintery moods.