This Cocktail Tastes Like a Celery Stalk

It’s fairly common knowledge that celery makes a fantastic gin pairing—I’ve been so lucky to have sampled many decent gin-celery concoctions throughout various bars and restaurants in New York City. But I’ve never been slapped in the face so hard with a celery stalk than I was at Vaucluse, chef Michael White’s French-inspired haunt in Manhattan’s Upper East Side neighborhood. 
“I wanted to create a cocktail that mimicked the sensation of biting into a crisp, perfectly green piece of celery,” says head bartender Ashley Meehan. “Fruits and acid are quite easy to introduce into cocktails, whereas vegetables can quickly make your cocktail taste like Grandma’s V8.” 
For the Jardin des Plantes cocktail, Meehan infuses Tanqueray gin with macerated celery seeds as well as the celery leaves found in the stalk’s interior to “add a grassy note.” Though it sounds easy enough, it took Meehan a bit of experimentation to get the perfect recipe. “The process first started by infusing gin with pieces of celery,” she states. “But because celery is so absorbent, I ended up creating gin-filled celery. [Also an awesome accidental snack.]”
Though she isn’t related to Jim Meehan of PDT fame, Meehan is a seasoned bar veteran in her own right: she has both cicerone and sommelier certifications and obtained the Consejo Regulador del Tequila Award “T” while working under the Empellón umbrella. Meehan has been with the Altamarea Group since Vaucluse’s opening and is always on the hunt for a savory cocktail. “I like to have something savory on the menu every season—this is a challenge for me,” she continues. “Just like cooking, crafting cocktails and finding the perfect balance of flavor takes a few tries, whether it be juice, seed, dehydrated or fresh products.” And if you’re stumped? “Consult someone who works in a kitchen—they sometimes have very clever tricks up their sleeves!”

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