Floral cocktails as a trend are nothing new, but the cocktail wizards at Design District gem FT33 are hardly just muddling some flowers up in a highball. In addition to the veritable garden of herb and flower garnishes you'll find lining the bar top on any given evening, the dynamic bar duo of Tristan Price and Scott Augat are utilizing some high-tech equipment that just as likely to be found in a science lab as behind a bar. Much like Matt McCallister's cuisine, the cocktail selection is constantly rotating based on what's fresh and in season; but right now, drinkers can find a tasty concoction called the Marigold Mint Julep, made with the vivid gold flowers that are more often spotted in a flower bed than a cocktail glass.
As Price explains it, the process of mixing the drink is "very basic": it's a mixture of housemade marigold-mint tincture, Old Overholt rye, lemon juice, and lemon oleosacrum. What the hell is lemon oleosacrum? Lemon peel and sugar are vacuum sealed together, which basically creates a lemon oil as the sugar pulls all the oils from the lemon peel. That mixture is then cut with hot water to create a sort of richly flavored lemon simple syrup — a process that Augat fully admits is "laborious, time-consuming, and geeky," a descriptor that could certainly also be applied to the unique process behind the marigold-mint tincture.
The tincture is made using a very fancy piece of equipment known as a rotovap, or a rotary evaporator. The rotary evaporator creates a vacuum that dramatically decreases the boiling point of liquids, allowing for low-temperature infusions that maintain the integrity of the ingredient — in this case, enabling FT33's bar wizards to extract all the sweet floral goodness out of marigolds without also pulling out the undesirable grassy flavors. The result is a uniquely flavored drink that's worlds apart from any flowery lavender martini you may have sipped in the past.