|Dosa bar manager Lenny Gumm.|
"The cocktail list will have a few drinks from our current menu at Fillmore and a number of new drinks that will be available only at Valencia," explains bar manager Lenny Gumm. For the past few months the Dosa bar staff have been collaborating on the new list, which Gumm describes as drinks with a "focus on using spices from our kitchen and housemade ingredients, but with a slightly different approach."
Building on the gin-centric style established by Jonny Raglin when the Fillmore location first opened, Gumm and staff have continued to evolve the cocktail menu in a way that is both exotic and accessible. The new menu includes four drinks we had a chance to sample. The Expat ($11, Square One Botanical vodka, lemon, mint, honey, green cardamom) lures you to stay and have a few more with aromatics of the rose in the vodka and cardamom. The lush Golden Eye ($10, duck-fat-washed scotch, Benedictine, Gran Classico bitter liqueur) has decadence that you sense more than you taste, while the Leeson Park ($10, Jameson's Irish Whiskey, vermouth rouge, ginger liqueur, black cardamom) impresses for its depth of flavor and extreme drinkability. The Punjabi Express ($10, Antiguo Reposado Tequila, gunpowder* agave, lemon, elderflower, San Juan Del Rio mezcal, marinated grilled pineapple pieces) has a long list of passengers, yet finds its focus in the pineapple and agave components.Usman Chaudhary, who has been with Dosa since the beginning, will be lead bartender in the new Valencia bar, with Gumm managing both locations. "My goal as the bar manager at Dosa is to build upon the foundation that was built by all of the fantastic bartenders past and present that have been so integral to our program," Gumm says. Part of that is his involvement with owner Anjan Mitra's efforts to create a custom gin.
Working with Davorin Kuchan, distiller and proprietor of Belmont's Old World Spirits, they have produced a house version of Blade Gin. The recipe includes fresh curry leaf -- not the turmeric-laced spice blend -- as a signature ingredient, along with cilantro, South Indian black pepper, and star anise, the licorice flavor of which presents itself by a faint sweetness. The Dosa version of Blade Gin is the focal point of the new bar program at Valencia, but will be available at both locations in the signature gin and housemade tonic and a specialty cocktail.
The cocktails and gin are both terrific on their own, but what's most impressive is how well they complement the food. It's one of the few times we wanted to drink cocktails with dinner instead of just drinking our dinner.
Dosa, 995 Valencia (at 21st St.), 642-3672
* Gunpowder is a ground blend of toasted chiles, spices, and lentils -- yes, lentils!